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Friday, 8 August 2008

Gary Hardy was found guilty of supplying heroin and amphetamines and laundering his profits through a string of made-to-measure businesses.

04:05 |

Gary Hardy was found guilty of supplying heroin and amphetamines and laundering his profits through a string of made-to-measure businesses. And Hardy kept it in the family, using his crack addict brother Paul to deal vast quantities of drugs worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. The family connection did not end there - their mother, June Muers, 67, helped Paul deal drugs out of her home in Kirkby-in-Ashfield. And Paul's ex-partner Zoe Chapman, 29, would courier drugs to clients in her children's pushchair. All were found guilty of drugs offences at Nottingham Crown Court on Thursday. Police seized £70,000 worth of drugs from his mother's home During the course of the trial, Gary Hardy, 46, was described as one of three drugs generals, with a huge multi-million pound drugs empire, who ran part of the north Nottinghamshire patch. He shared the area with two other dealers, John Dawes and his brother Rob, to avoid a turf war. John Dawes is currently three years into a 24-year prison sentence for supplying Class A and B drugs. His brother Rob was arrested in Dubai in May on an international arrest warrant issued by the Spanish authorities in connection with drugs charges. For every kilogram of heroin sold every seven to 10 days, the Dawes brothers and Hardy would make £8,000 profit each.
Running his turf with violence, fear and intimidation, the court heard that Gary Hardy and his family were notorious in the area, outwardly enjoying all the trappings of wealth from "successful businesses". Between 2001-07, Hardy was the registered keeper of 90 vehicles, not all at the same time, but nevertheless expensive, luxury cars. When he was arrested, he had 16 finance agreements on the cars, valued at £904,000, with monthly repayments reaching £15,200.
He would "sell" these cars on to his employees, taking instalments from them and hanging onto the log books until payments had been made, laundering his drugs cash.
Hardy enjoyed his affluent lifestyle He had a brand new home, and would pay his children's private school fees in cash, yet had several failed businesses.
Hardy was already under surveillance when a drug deal went wrong on 29 April 2003, but that failed deal ensured Nottinghamshire Police finally got some key evidence and signed up a number of witnesses to testify against him. Their following investigation looked closely into the accounts from companies he owned or was involved with. When fraud accountants went through Hardy's Apex Windows' accounts, they found in 2003, more than £1m went out on wages - a 148% increase on the previous year, but sales only rose by 34%. Employees on the books included Paul Hardy, although witnesses said he never did a day's work there.
In six years, Hardy had finance deals on 90 luxury cars Det Ch Insp Stewart Bradley who led the investigation, said: "He was a major player. The Hardy drugs group is what we would class as an organised crime group.
"Gary Hardy had a network of people underneath him, prepared to do the work for him and he remained, as was described, a general with a number of lieutenants and perhaps what you would describe as soldiers working on the ground.
"In his elevated position, he was able to keep away from the hands-on drugs himself and dealt mainly with the money. And that money ran into millions." He said some witnesses who gave evidence were so frightened they left the area and never returned. The court heard one tell how a man was beaten and stabbed at one of Gary Hardy's garages as he failed to pay a drugs debt.
On the day of the Hardy arrests on 4 January 2007, police found drugs with a street value of almost £70,000 and £16,000 in cash stashed all over June Muers' house, including in a spaghetti pot in the kitchen. Apex Windows, like his other businesses, went into liquidation
Ch Insp Barry Harper from the drugs directorate said: "I think Gary Hardy did a lot of damage to the community. "By flooding this area with drugs, it caused untold amounts of damage to people."
During the trial, in trying to justify how he kept up his flashy lifestyle when businesses were failing, Hardy maintained his car and window companies became "too successful" and had to be put into liquidation.
He had a portfolio of about 40 properties in north Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
One witness claimed most of the properties were empty and the money was laundered through rent books. Not a single receipt was recovered for the rents paid, a point Hardy failed to clear up during the trial.
Now the process of untangling Hardy's assets has begun, as officers have started to try to recover his ill-gotten gains through the Proceeds of Crime Act.

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