Forfeit £10,000 to police, Leeds couple ordered

A year after being cleared of money laundering £30,000, a Leeds couple have now been ordered to forfeit £10,469 of the cash in a civil case heard before magistrates.

In November last year at Leeds Crown Court Diane and Shane Cunningham, aged 45 and 51 of Torre Grove, Burmantofts, were found not guilty of money laundering.

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It was reported the couple were to fight to reclaim the money.

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Now at Wakefield Magistrates' Court last week a forfeiture order was granted to the police for almost 10,469.59p of the total sum after it was deemed on the balance of probability that sum of money was a result of unlawful conduct.

The original crown court trial heard that in a raid on their three-bedroom council semi in 2007 police had seized bundles of cash totalling 13,500 from wardrobes and other places at their home and 17,000 from their bank account believing it to be money from illegal drug sales.

The couple told Leeds Crown Court they had accumulated 13,500 from savings during their 30-year marriage.

They said they didn't like using banks and had always lived a very frugal existence.

They claimed some of the money was from cashed life insurance policies and did not want to put it in the bank.

A forensics expert said the traces of drugs found on the notes were no higher than found on the majority of banknotes in circulation.

The court was told some cash had clearly not been touched for years and had layers of dust.

Mr Cunningham said he had given up working several years earlier to be the full time carer for his wife who suffers from epilepsy and had done nothing wrong.

He had planned to buy a car with the money but had not done so because of his wife's illness

The jury heard that 2g of cannabis was found in their son's bedroom at the house. No other drugs were found.

At the hearing the judge had questioned the civil forfeiture case being brought by West Yorkshire Police and said it was difficult to see how the presence of the money in itself indicated criminal activity and there was "nothing to suggest dishonesty by the defendants".

In another case the magistrates ordered that 76,000 of a total 84,211 seized from an address in Ashgrove, Bradford, by officers from West Yorkshire Police's Economic Crime Unit when four people were arrested and later released without charge, should also be forfeited after it was agreed that on the balance of probability, that money was a result of unlawful conduct.

The remainder is to be given back to those it was seized from.

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