20 Feb 2014

Light sentence for benefit thief wife - eventually

A Bromley couple who lived off the proceeds of drug trafficking and benefit fraud have been sentenced.

Matthew Harrod, aged 43, of Hayes Lane, was jailed for 10 years after pleading guilty at Kingston Crown Court to being concerned in the supply of drugs.

His wife Fiona Kelly, aged 45, of Hayes Lane, was given an 18-month sentence suspended for two years and ordered to do 140 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to benefit fraud totalling £60,000 and money laundering.

That seems pretty minimal.

Harrod, who had links to criminals across the country, brokered the delivery of three kilos of cocaine from a network in Manchester to one in London.

The couple had not declared any income since 2003 and paid for extensive renovations at their Hayes Lane home.

Kelly also drove a £50,000 convertible Mercedes Benz car.

They were targeted during a surveillance operation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and were arrested in March 2011.

So it took a long time to get to court.

They now face being stripped of their criminal assets.

NCA branch commander Oliver Higgins said:
Harrod had been involved in drug trafficking for many years. He actively used counter-surveillance techniques but we were able to link him conclusively to a cocaine seizure that led to his downfall. Our investigation does not stop here though as we are working with partners to strip the couple of their criminal assets. We have restrained money from bank accounts and property. A confiscation hearing will now take place.
And so it slowly grinds on.

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