Friday, 30 March 2012

Local man's criminal £55k fortune seized

A man who ran a sex establishment from his home in Leeds has been ordered to repay £55,000 from the proceeds of his criminality.

Mr Gary Carl Pickard of 55 Parkwood Road, Leeds, LS11 5RQ was ordered to pay the amount plus repay costs of £5,000 at Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday 28 March at the end of a number of investigations into how he ran his house as a sex establishment.

Leeds City Council, working in partnership with Trading Standards and Kirklees Council have pursued the case since 2010 after a complaint was received about an advert in magazine offering pornographic films for sale. In a first for Leeds City Council, both a warrant was obtained and also criminal proceedings, leading the way for further prosecutions.

At the start of the investigation, Kirklees Council were instructed to carry out an investigation into the financial affairs of Mr Pickard on behalf of Leeds City Council.

In February 2011 a Restraint Order was taken out against Mr Pickard which prohibited him from dealing in his assets. Trading Standards were notified and Leeds City Council obtained a warrant to enter and search his home where they were able to seize a number of dvds.

On the 30th March 2011 Gary Carl Pickard appeared at Leeds Crown Court and pleaded guilty to one offence of using premises as a sex establishment without a licence being in force and five offences of having in his possession video recordings of unclassified work for the purposes of supply. Mr Pickard was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment, suspended for 2 years and ordered to undertake 150 hours unpaid work.

John Mulcahy, Leeds City Council’s head of licensing said:

“This is a real first for the council. We have successfully obtained a warrant to enter the residential property and also gained a prosecution for the proceeds of crime.

“Mr Pickard had financially benefited from his criminality, and it is therefore only right that this money is taken back.

“It is an excellent result for the council and partners involved, and a real warning to people undertaking this kind of business, that we are watching them and are able to pursue these cases.”

Jane Brady, assistant director of Kirklees Council’s customer & exchequer service said:

“This case demonstrates how effective partnership working ensures offenders are brought to justice for the full extent of their crimes. Our Financial Investigation Team have the powers to probe into financial affairs to make sure criminals don’t gain from their activities – clearly demonstrating that crime doesn’t pay.

“Our Financial Investigators acted quickly on information received from Leeds City Council to investigate Mr Pickard’s financial situation. During the operation they calculated the full extent of Mr Pickard’s benefit from his criminality and uncovered assets of over £136,000. Investigators also found Mr Pickard had failed to inform HM Revenue & Customs about his employment, or earnings since 2004.

“These findings were used to obtain a Restraint Order which prevents Mr Pickard from dealing with any of his assets until the result of the Confiscation Order hearing is known.”

Graham Hebblethwaite West Yorkshire Trading Standards chief officer said:
"For those who fall into the net the Proceeds of Crime Act can serve as a very stark wake up call. Where it can be demonstrated that offenders have profited from running an illegal business West Yorkshire Trading Standards will always seek to recover criminal their assets."

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450