A BRICKLAYER who was stopped by the police for speeding on the M6 near Penrith had more than £300,000 in cash stuffed into two bags which he had in his car.

One of the bags had been "glued shut."

After hearing what happened when police found the cash – including how the driver told lies and had no credible explanation for the money – magistrates approved a Cumbria Police application for it to be forfeited.

This was done under Proceeds of Crime legislation. Cumbria Police lawyer Gemma Rogerson outlined the background to the police application.

She said officers who were patrolling in a marked police car on the morning of October 20 last year noticed a speeding car that was driving south between Junctions 40 and 41.

"The vehicle took a considerable time to stop,” said Miss Rogerson. The driver was the car’s only occupant and the officers noticed he appeared “nervous.”

Miss Rogerson said: “He said that he was going home after working as a brick layer for a week, but he was not dressed in clothes you would not expect a bricklayer to wear and nor was the vehicle registered in his name.”

When the officers asked the driver if there was anything of note in his car, he said there was not.

But because of the driver’s demeanour, the officers decided to search the car, using powers conferred by the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Miss Rogerson said: “They located two mobile phones and a B&M bag for life containing a large sum of cash – in the region of £100,000. On the rear seat there was a duffle bag which had a zip but it was glued shut.”

Inside this was approximately £200,000. The total amount of cash found was £300,508.

An investigation of the defendant’s bank accounts revealed nothing that suggested he could have legitimately had such a large amount of money in possession.

It was also confirmed that the original home address the driver gave to the police was incorrect.

Miss Rogerson told magistrates: “It’s known that the M6 is often a gateway for drug dealers to transport drugs and cash to and from Scotland and it is very suspicious to have such a large amount of money in cash in a vehicle.”

For those reasons, she said, the police believed that the money seized was derived from or intended for use in crime.

Magistrates must be satisfied that this is the case “on the balance of probabilities” in order to approve a police Proceeds of Crime forfeiture application.

The court heard that the motorist involved, who lives in the Birmingham area, had signed a document which accepted he has no claim on the cash.

He was made aware of the police application, presented to magistrates at Carlisle’s Rickergate court, and he failed to attend.

Magistrates approved the police application.

The News & Star understands that this case represents the biggest single seizure of suspect cash ever made by police in Cumbria. It comes amid a series of similar successful police cash seizures in recent months.

* Money forfeited under Proceeds of Crime legislation is ploughed back into fighting crime in the area where it was seized, with the cash split between the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Office.

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