A Bognor couple have been sentenced for producing illegal steroids at a secret laboratory in Aldingbourne to fund a ‘lavish lifestyle’.
Police said Christopher Young, 55, and Tracy Robinson, 51, both unemployed, and both of Marshall Avenue, Bognor, were sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court on Friday (April 27), having been convicted on March 20 after a 12-day trial.
Young was sentenced to a total of nine years imprisonment and Robinson was sentenced to a total of three years imprisonment, police confirmed.
A police spokesman said Young was convicted of four counts of money laundering a total of £343,382, producing and possessing with intent to supply Class C drugs, and with income support fraud, tax credit fraud and council tax benefit fraud.
Robinson was convicted of seven counts of money laundering a total of £448,816, and with income support fraud, tax credit fraud and council tax benefit fraud. She was found not guilty of a count of money laundering relating to £30,000 cash, he added.
He said: “Police discovered controlled drugs with a street value of at least £340,000 following a raid at an industrial site at Howards Acre in Hook Lane, Aldingbourne, on May 16 last year.
“Officers had received several anonymous reports of antisocial behaviour in relation to the site over the previous six months.
“Upon arrival police discovered Young in an improvised steroid laboratory set up in a tucked-away metal blue portacabin container on the site.
“Extensive financial investigation proved that Young had since at least February 2007 purchased laboratory equipment, machines, supplies, raw materials, packaging and labelling.
“The financial records provided evidence that deliveries of the equipment had been received at their address, a six-bedroomed house valued at £430,000.
“The haul of substances in the ‘laboratory’ included over 14 litres of injectable steroids, 219,000 steroid tablets, and 214,000 tablets of prescription only medication together with dozens of kilos of raw powders and liquids sufficient for the future production of many more thousands of tablets and injectable drugs had police not interrupted the operation.
“Young was believed to have operated for more than years under the name of ‘Wildcat Research Laboratories’, illegally producing steroids and offering them for sale together with prescription-only medications without any licence or qualifications.
“The couple had over the years had regular cash income from the illegal enterprise and amassed assets of approximately £1million while claiming means-tested benefits.
“In his sentencing remarks Judge William Ashworth said that the couple ‘clearly had a lavish lifestyle’ with the purchase of foreign travel, property and vehicles and that whilst it was ‘clear that Young was the primary operator in terms of the money laundering telling Robinson what to do’ she knew what was going on and was happy to live the lifestyle.
“He said that with the ‘large amounts of money coming in from drug sales the fact that you continued to claim benefits for ten years would be something that the public would be aghast at’.”
Detective Constable Andrea Watts said: “This search and the subsequent arrests show that we take reports from the public seriously, even those that come in anonymously.
“We would always encourage people to contact us if they see or hear anything suspicious in their area no matter how small it may seem as others may have reported similar concerns and it allows us to build a bigger picture of potential criminality.
“People involved in the use of steroids are oblivious to where it is coming from. Little do they know it was in some sordid yard.
“They think they are buying it from clinical laboratory with scientists in white coats but the reality could not be further from the truth and they are buying their steroids from a lab where the drugs are produced in a container with no recourse to complaint or test procedures.”
All assets held by the defendants are currently under court restraint whilst law enforcement action continues, with Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation applications by the CPS and Sussex Police financial investigators scheduled for later this year.