Published: November 29, 2011
Court orders Burnham-On-Sea drug dealer to hand over £2,300

A drug-dealer from Burnham-On-Sea has been ordered to pay for his crimes by handing back more than £2,000 which he gained illegally from the sale of drugs.

Eric Freeman, 47, has been ordered to pay £2,335 during a Confiscation Hearing at Taunton Crown Court after a financial investigation found he had profited from his illegal activities.

Freeman was originally arrested in April for possession with intent to supply illegal drugs after being approached by a police officer and seen to attempt to discard a quantity of amphetamine.

He was found to be in possession of a large quantity of the substance, as well as digital scales used by drug dealers and over £1,400 in cash.

He was sentenced to 12 months in prison in September and has now also been ordered to pay back money deemed to have been acquired through his offences.

Confiscation orders force criminals to sell assets such as houses and cars or repay money which the court deems to have been acquired through criminal activity.

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) once an offender has been convicted, police and the courts can investigate their finances and ascertain how much the offender has acquired through their criminal activity – wealth and assets they cannot account for from legitimate sources.

The courts then impose an order forcing the offender to pay the sum within a certain period of time using any property or assets they hold. The POCA also means that offenders cannot protect their cash and assets by signing them over to a spouse or family member.

DC Mark Schofield, from Taunton Police station, who led the initial investigation told "There was considerable evidence that Mr Freeman was dealing drugs to residents in Highbridge and Burnham-On-Sea so we are obviously pleased that he is unable to do so for some time."

"I hope the result of the confiscation hearing today and his previous conviction sends a clear message that drug dealing will not be tolerated and that crime doesn't pay. We will not let criminals profit from their activities."

"Drug dealing impacts heavily on communities and often leads to misery for local residents either in the form of anti-social behaviour in and around the addresses of dealers or in other forms of crime that are undertaken to fund habits. We will continue to take a robust stance against it."

And Dr Kirstie Cogram, head of the Constabulary's Financial Investigation Unit, added: "This order should send out a clear message to criminals that we will ensure that crime does not pay and that we will continue to strip assets away from those that profit from committing crime.

"One in seven of us knows someone who is living off the proceeds of crime. People who enjoy the good-life, expensive holidays and flash cars and fund this through crime and the suffering of others."

Police would like to hear from anyone who has information about illegal drug dealing activity by calling 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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