Saturday 24 February 2018

Couple fund lavish lifestyle through multimillion-pound drugs ring

Christopher Monaghan, who was jailed for 16 years at Guildford Crown Court for conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply drugs and three counts of money laundering. Photo credit should read: Surrey Police/PA Wire
Christopher Monaghan, who was jailed for 16 years at Guildford Crown Court for conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply drugs and three counts of money laundering. Photo credit should read: Surrey Police/PA Wire

By Ruth Lumley

A husband and wife funded a lavish lifestyle of luxury holidays, expensive houses and high-end cars with money generated through a multimillion-pound drugs ring.

Christopher Monaghan and his wife Karen, from East Horsley, Surrey, lived a life of luxury funded by money made from selling cocaine, Surrey Police said.

Christopher Monaghan, 44, was described as a key player in the drugs gang, who were caught red-handed by police officers when they picked up a shipment of high-purity cocaine, which had a street value of up to £5.25 million, in Staines-upon-Thames on February 7 2013.

On that day 21kg of the drug had been imported through Heathrow Airport and taken to an address in Staines, a police spokesman said.

Six men have already been jailed for a total of 50 years for their involvement after officers found some of the group testing and repackaging the drugs at the address.

Christopher Monaghan was arrested later that day driving a Volkswagen van in Effingham which contained a metal press used in the repackaging of drugs, police said.

He also had two mobile phones which contained messages and calls between himself and one of six men relating to the delivery that day, according to police.

His £1.5 million house in East Horsley - one of three that the couple owned - was searched by officers and designer watches, a Porsche Cayenne with a personalised number plate and other items were seized.

Inquiries with Companies House revealed the pair had been directors of a courier business since June 2009 and a police investigation of those legitimate earnings showed they could not have supported the couple's lavish lifestyle.

Examination of their personal accounts also uncovered large sums of cash being transferred in and out, while it showed spending on high-value items including the Porsche at a cost of £26,000 and holidays costing £9,900, the spokesman said.

Christopher Monaghan was jailed for 16 years at Guildford Crown Court on February 11 having earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply drugs and three counts of money laundering.

Karen Monaghan, 45, was found guilty of two counts of money laundering following a trial in November and appeared at the same court on Friday where she was given an 18-month prison sentence suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

Detective Inspector Ben Lee, from the Serious Organised Crime Unit, said: "This has been a long and complex investigation which has seen a highly organised drugs gang disrupted and taken off the streets for a long period of time.

"Christopher Monaghan was the leader of this group, reaping the rewards of his criminal enterprise.

"He and his wife lived the high life with thousands of pounds spent on luxury holidays to the Middle East, expensive houses, and personalised number plates on high-value cars.

"On examining their business records and submissions to HMRC it is obvious that their company was in no way able to support such a lifestyle.

"This was a large haul of drugs which, if sold on, would no doubt have been responsible for all sorts of other criminal offences.

"Thankfully, we were able to stop them in their tracks because of the dedication and teamwork of our officers.

"I hope this sentence is of reassurance to the public that we take drugs offences extremely seriously and will do all we can to bring criminals like the Monaghans before the courts.

"We will now be pursuing further action under the Proceeds of Crime Act to seize any assets acquired by the duo as a result of these offences."

Press Association

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