A DRUG dealer who made almost £140,000 by selling cocaine during the first Covid lockdown has been ordered to repay just £1,285.
Paul Dunlop was caught because he was driving at the height of the restrictions in April 2020 and police later uncovered a small-scale supply operation at his home.
His former house in Exeter was protected by a reinforced double door and he had a pickaxe handle and a baton handy in case anyone broke in.
Dunlop, 53, now of Manor Road, Newton Abbot, was found with £1,285 cash when he was arrested and a financial investigation has shown this was his only available asset.
Judge Anna Richardson declared that Dunlop’s benefit from crime was £139,279.65 but the available assets were £1,285.
She set a nominal three month period for him to pay, but this is academic because the cash is already in the hands of the police.
At the earlier sentencing hearing, Dunlop admitted supplying cocaine, being concerned in the supply of crack, possession of criminal property and possession of a prohibited weapon.
He was jailed for two years, suspended for two years, and ordered to go on a nine months drug rehabilitation course and do 200 hours unpaid community work by Judge Richardson at Exeter Crown Court.
Dunlop was stopped on the road from Exeter to Topsham on April 28, 2020, at the time of the most severe lockdown restrictions when all non-essential travel was banned.
Police became suspicious because he had a large amount of cash on him and a search of his former home in Burnthouse Lane, Exeter, showed he had been running his own small-scale drug supply business.
His front door was reinforced by a second entry system and he had a pickaxe and extendable baton nearby.
Officers found equipment which was being used to convert cocaine into crack inside the flat.
Messages on Dunlop’s phone showed he had been dealing for about two months, during which time more than £10,000 had been paid into his bank account, sometimes in online bank payments from clients.
The phone evidence suggested he discussed deals of an ounce but they did not show which drugs they related to or whether they were actually delivered.
The total amount of unexplained payments that went through his accounts was £10,279.09.