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Thursday, 30 October 2014

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Cumbrian loan shark who went into drugs trade jailed

A loan shark who turned to the drugs trade has been jailed for four years.

Paul Gilpin photo
Paul Gilpin

Paul Gilpin, 41, had been trying to import mephedrone when a package was seized by customs officers.

And when police raided his west Cumbrian home, they seized thousands of pounds worth of drugs.

Back in 2011, Gilpin, of New Road, Thornhill, Egremont, was given a nine-month prison sentence – suspended for two years – as well as being ordered to pay back more than £50,000 for his loan sharking .

His illegal loans – some charged at 70 per cent interest – he bought two houses and made more than £250,000 over eight years, a previous court hearing heard.

As he was jailed at Carlisle Crown Court this week, a judge said Gilpin preyed on the vulnerable.

He pleaded guilty to fraudulent evasion of a prohibition after the UK Border Agency intercepted a parcel being sent to him from Amsterdam in November 2012. It contained 126g of mephedrone. He also admitted possessing the drug with intent to supply.

Tim Evans, prosecuting, said the drugs recovered by the border agency would have a street value of £2,520.

When Cumbria police later searched his home, they found bags, scales, cash and mobile phones.

Gilpin was arrested and questioned on the importing charge and subsequently released on bail.

Mr Evans added: “It was clear from the (mobile phone) messages that this was an ongoing operation.”

Officers visited the Gilpins’ home again as well as a stable block nearby which was referred to in the text messages. They found a further 206.36g of mephedrone, with a street value of £4127.20.

They also found evidence from phone messages that his wife, Shalene Gilpin, 41, had been dealing cannabis.

She appeared in court and admitted possessing mephedrone with intent to supply and attempting to supply cannabis.

Greg Hoare, defending Paul Gilpin, told the court there were other aspects to his character and that he had worked with lots of charities.

“In a lot of other respects he is a commendable person,” he said.

Shalene Gilpin’s defence barrister, Alison Whalley, said: “She was only involved because of her partner.”

Judge Peter Hughes QC, said to Mr Gilpin: “You prey on the vulnerable. That is what those who you offered illegal loans to and what those you dealt with in the drugs trade were.

“Sadly there are many people in your area who are living in strained circumstances who are vulnerable to exploitation by people such as you.”

His prison sentence included an element of time for his loan sharking crimes.

Judge Hughes accepted Mrs Gilpin had played a “supporting role” under the influence of her husband but added that she was not “an innocent abroad”.

He sentenced her to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

He also gave her a community order for 12 months and ordered her to do 250 hours of unpaid work.

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