armed robber was found to be living a life of luxury to rival Premier league footballers after he was caught carrying out a bank raid.Salford gangster David Cullen, 29, lavished thousands of pounds on homes, cars and jewellery for himself and his family, a police investigation discovered.Among the luxury items he bought during a three year spending spree were a £30,000 Franck Muller watch and a Harley Davidson 4x4 truck imported from the United States.He also shared his fortune with his mother, brothers and girlfriend, treating them to cars and foreign holidays, despite having no obvious source of income.But the high life came to an end when Cullen was caught carrying out a terrifying bank robbery in Preston in April 2006.
His gang, armed with a sledgehammer and two loaded guns, stole £136,000 from a Lloyds TSB branch but were arrested soon afterwards.Cullen is now serving ten years for his part in the robbery but police were suspicious about how he had funded his luxury lifestyle and launched a separate investigation into his finances.They found that in the the three years leading up to the Preston robbery Cullen splashed out:
A £40,000 deposit on a plush new semi in leafy Prestwich.£27,000 in cash to refurbish the house.£20,000 on a Harley Davidson 4x4 truck imported from the US.
A £30,000 Franck Muller watch.A £76,000 a holiday home in Florida.A fleet of cars, paying in cash for a £28,000 VW Toureg, a £6,000 Fiat Stilo (for his girlfriend), a £25,000 7 series BMW, a £21,000 Porsche 911 and also £8,000 on a Vauxhall Vectra.
A £3,000 insurance bill for the BMW was paid in full up frontExpensive holidays to Spain and Dubai for him and his girlfriend.An £80,000 deposit when he moved to a bigger house in Swinton.The spending spree began in 2003, shortly after Cullen was found not guilty of a £302,000 bank robbery in Bolton.Cullen, formerly of Heaton Street, Salford, has now pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiracy to defraud, effectively admitting that he funded his extravagant purchases from the proceeds of crime. He could be given an extended prison sentence on top of the ten years he is serving when he is sentenced in the next few weeks.His mother, girlfriend and two brothers will also be sentenced after they pleaded guilty to a string of offences.Cullen's girlfriend, Natasha Smyth, 27, of Harbourne Avenue, Worsley, admitted benefits fraud and money laundering.Cullen's older brother Anthony Cullen, a former footballer known as Tony, 36, of Myrtle Grove, Whitefield, worked as a loan shark as well as helping his brother hide and spend the dirty cash. He admitted housing benefit fraud, conspiracy to defraud and also operating as an unlicensed money lender.David Cullen's younger brother, joiner Arron Cullen, 27, of Rydal Grove, Prestwich, admitted money laundering by acting as a front through which David bought and sold the Prestwich and Swinton houses.David's mother, Bernadette Cullen, created a false identity to buy two homes she owned in Salford and Prestwich, and then used her real name to sponge off the state by claiming she was a tenant. She falsely claimed housing and council tax benefits worth around £23,000.
Bernadette Cullen, 55, of Heaton Street, Salford, admitted conspiracy to defraud, two charges of dishonestly making false statements and converting or concealing criminal property by buying and then selling a £76,000 holiday home in Florida with David's money.Det Sgt John Mulvihill said: "This has been a long and complex investigation into David Cullen and his family. The investigation has untangled criminality going back to the 1990's. David Cullen is a professional armed robber and his greed and extravagant lifestyle was the downfall for his family. Cullen's ability to live cash rich and his determination to remain invisible to the authorities led to the investigation into the wider family unit."Evidence revealed that not only did family members assist him with laundering the proceeds of his criminality but they also had criminal enterprises of their own."His mother's business was benefit fraud and his elder brother Anthony earned his crust through benefit fraud and loan sharking."Greater Manchester Police are committed to bringing to justice families that are willing to assist in the laundering of criminal property. This investigation uncovered the lengths that certain individuals will go to in order to conceal their proceeds of crime but it also showed the lengths that GMP will go to by working in partnership with local authorities to expose, pursue and prosecute those who are willing to enjoy the benefits of a lavish lifestyle financed by crime. This is what the public of Greater Manchester wants and expects."
In July, the M.E.N. reported how another Salford family was also hauled before the courts for enjoying the criminal earnings of robber Peter Anderson, who was in Cullen's gang which raided the Preston bank. Anderson's girlfriend Danielle Bardsley was given a suspended jail sentence for living the high life on her boyfriend's ill-gotten gains.
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