Cleaner pleaded guilty to money laundering after customs officers found almost £220,000 in illegal cash hidden in his car boot

A cleaner pleaded guilty to money laundering after he was caught with almost £220,000 in illegal cash in the boot of his car.

Friday, 5th February 2021, 11:45 am

Marcin Pryczek, from Pontefract, said he was moonlighting as a courier when he was stopped by customs officers on the A52 near Derby on the evening of September 20, 2019.

The 36-year-old had been to the Midlands city to pick up two 'packages' which were placed under the boot floor of the hired Nissan Qashqai he had been driving, Leeds Crown Court was told.

Geoff Whelan, prosecuting, said that Pryczek had got talking to a man at an airport in Poland prior to September 2019 who told him he was involved in delivering parcels, and that he could get work for the defendant.

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Leeds Crown Court

The mystery man then contacted Pryczek and asked him if he was interested in travelling to Derby for a pick up, and would be paid £150 for his efforts.

With limited income as a handyman, gardener and cleaner, he accepted the job but later admitted that he suspected it would involve criminal property.

When he reached the street in Derby, he parked up and two men got out of two different vehicles and each put a bag under the floor of the boot of the Qashqai.

At around 9.40pm Pryczek was stopped by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers on the A52 heading back to Pontefract.

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Pryczek refused to answer questions about why he was in Derby, denied meeting anyone, claimed he did not know it was cash in the boot and that is was not his.

Pryczek, of Monkhill Avenue, Pontefract, eventually admitted a charge of money laundering, but said he did not fully understand why he had been charged after claiming he had no idea it was money that he was being asked to deliver.

A probation report into the defendant, who has a partner and a seven-year-old child, found he was at low risk of offending again.

He has no previous convictions and had arrived in the UK in 2012 looking for work.

"It was clear that you were not going to Derby at 9.30pm for something of little value.

"You knew it was illegal goods you were collecting."

But the judge accepted it was a one-off incident and there had been little planning on the defendant's part.

He added: "You are somebody who works hard, this is out of character for you. You are a family man."

He gave him 12-months' jail, suspended for two years, and told to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.