£600k drugs plot man must repay just £1

Jailed: Phil Jennings who has been ordered to pay back just �1
Jailed: Phil Jennings who has been ordered to pay back just �1

A Chorley man involved in a £600,000 international drugs plot which saw a young mum spend nine months in a US prison, has been ordered to pay back just £1.

Phillip Jennings, 24, of Gillibrand Walks, was found guilty of helping Louise Marsden, and another mule, transport 1.4kg of cocaine in 2008.

But at a Proceeds of Crime hearing at Preston Crown Court last week, Jennings was ordered to pay back just £1.

He is currently serving an eight-year prison term for bombarding the mum-of-one with text messages to encourage her to act as a mule in the international drugs operation.

Malcolm Isherwood, Senior Crown Prosecutor said: “At the Proceeds of Crime hearing, the judge ordered Phillip Jennings to repay a nominal amount of £1. This was the amount found to be recoverable against the defendant under the Proceeds of Crime legislation.

“The order may, however, be reconsidered at a later date, should any further assets come to light or should the defendant’s financial situation change.”

Marsden and fellow mule Daniel Lee were found in possession of high-purity cocaine sewn into their cargo pants at JFK Airport in October 2008.

At the time, Jennings was her boyfriend. It was originally planned that he would act as mule but when his passport failed to arrive, she was recruited.

Jennings’ accomplice, Martin Kiley, 30, of Wordsworth Terrace, was ordered to pay back £1,614.33 at the Proceeds of Crime Hearing on Monday, under confiscation proceedings brought about by the Crown Prosecution Service.

He is currently serving a 12-year sentence for being ‘embedded’ in the conspiracy, and recruiting and paying for the two mules to carry out to operation.

The two were found guilty in August after an investigation involving officers from Chorley Police’s Targeted Crime Unit and the Department of Homeland Security in the United States.

In the wake of Jennings conviction, his partner Leanne Fitzgerald, 20, and mother of his young daughter Paige, claimed he’d been made an example of.

Det Sgt John Roy, from Chorley CID, said: “The court has the power to make a minimal order if a criminal has no realisable assets.

“It means that should the pair come into possession of any realisable assets – such as a house – when they get out of prison, we could then start proceedings to take the remainder of the benefit from them.

“We will always seek to take the cash benefit out of criminality.

“We will investigate the finances of those people we suspect have obtained assets illegally and work with the Crown Prosecution Service through the courts to confiscate those assets.”

Jennings and Kiley were arrested on April 12, 2010, after text messages showed the extent of their involvement.

Marsden and Lee, from London, both went on to serve custodial sentences in America, for being in possession of the drugs, which would have had a street value of up to £600,000.