Drugs boats fraud woman sentenced

A mother-of-three, whose business made more than 20m from selling high speed boats to drugs cartels, has been given a two-year suspended prison sentence.

Ellen George, 43, of Lowestoft, Suffolk, had pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court to five counts of trying to defraud the Inland Revenue.

She also admitted possession of criminal property and helping someone else to retain criminal property.

The court heard her partner Richard Davison had absconded.

The court was told that George was involved in a multi-million pound money laundering and a drug running scheme.

Money contaminated

The case was so complicated HM Revenue and Customs took five years to investigate.

George ran a property and boat company Compton Marine, with partner Davison, from her Lowestoft home.

Crompton Marine adapted the 350,000 RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) to carry six tons of drugs at speeds of up to 60 knots. They were difficult to detect by radar.

The profits were put into 142 properties in Lowestoft.

George lived off the rents, but did not declare them to HM Revenue and Customs.

When arrested at her home, customs officers found 1.2m of cash in a safe and 250,000 was stuffed in a holdall under the stairs.

It was the largest amount confiscated by customs in the UK.

The cash was so contaminated by drugs, it was taken out of circulation.

Her defence was that she thought she was selling the boats to tobacco smugglers, the court heard.

She said she did as she was told by her partner and was not any good at accounting.