Leeds: Money launder crook on run dealt drugs

A crook who dealt drugs while on the run for a major money laundering conspiracy has been jailed for three years.

Mark Kerr, 38, originally from Leeds, was caught with cocaine and amphetamines with a street value of 12,500 when police raided the home where he was in hiding for his part in a scheme masterminded by a bank's anti-fraud chief.

Kerr recruited people to set up accounts so that dirty money could be put in and withdrawn.

The con was led by Richard Crawford, 41, then head of fraud operations at Yorkshire-based bank First Direct.

In eight months he stole more than 173,000 from customers' accounts.

After the offences came to light, jobless Kerr took his Thai wife and two children to a house in Bradford where he dealt in smuggled cigarettes, drugs and bought and sold cars as he was desperate for cash.

In February police raided the property on Gain Lane, Thornbury, and found the drugs stashed in a van outside.

Kerr pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and amphetamines with

intent to supply but giving evidence, he claimed his accomplices were responsible for the drugs, which had been stored in the garage.

Kerr refused to name them, saying he feared for the safety of his family.

But Recorder David Bradshaw said: "I do not believe his explanations. He was a man who was prepared to make money where he could.

"When he was on the run he took the opportunity to deal not only in cigarettes but in preparing drugs."

Mark Foley, mitigating, said Kerr lived in Thailand for 11 years but returned to the UK in 2008 desperate for money.

Kerr was jailed for 20 months in April for his part in Crawford's money laundering conspiracy.

Crawford, of Whitkirk in Leeds, was jailed for three years and eight months after he admitted fraud, possessing articles for use in fraud and money laundering.

Kerr got involved with the fraud through social circles in Seacroft, Leeds.

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