Former parish councillor branded ‘hypocrite’ by judge

Stephen Crowther.
Stephen Crowther.

A FORMER Flamborough parish councillor fighting police efforts to make him pay for his criminal lifestyle has been told by a judge he is not impressed and may lock him up again.

Stephen Crowther, 57, was jailed for 15 months in October 2010 after boasting he was an anti-drug role-model to kids, but helped run a £7,000 drugs factory opposite his village shop.

Judge Jeremy Richardson, QC, called Crowther a “hypocrite.” Despite serving time for his crime he is still involved in a fight with the courts after spending money he should have paid in compensation, Hull Crown Court heard.

Crowther used to run Flamborough DIY and rented out a vacant unit on the Bempton Lane Industrial Estate, at Flamborough, which was raided by police and found to have 123 cannabis plants.

There was a growing tent, flower pots, heat lamps and electrical equipment. Skunk cannabis worth £6,940 capable of delivering 348 street deals was found and confiscated by the courts.

Married Crowther of Marine Valley, Flamborough, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the production of a controlled class B drug in 2010 and appeared at Hull Crown Court again on Friday February 1.

He has been released from prison, lost his shop and resigned from the parish council. Crowther is still embroiled in the police process to recover his criminal assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act legislation.

Crown barrister Wendy Foster said the courts had ruled Crowther’s benefit from crime was more than £20,500. Ms Foster said at the time his sole asset was his pension worth the same amount. Crowther cashed it in, but he had to pay 40 per cent tax so has only handed over just over £12,000 to the police. However, he has not paid the tax to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs so there are currently two Government departments out of pocket.

“He received the lump sum, but has told us he had used the tax money to pay off his creditors instead on paying off the tax,” said Ms Foster. She said this left the courts in a position where Crowther owed more than £8,000 for his confiscation order and he had yet to pay it.

Judge David Tremberg said: “I am sorely tempted to lock him up. I am very un-impressed. I could sit as a magistrates’ court. We could get on with enforcement action now.”

Crowther’s defence barrister Andrew Strannex urged the judge not to jail him for defaulting and said the hearing was to vary the court’s order of his available assetts.

Mr Strannex said the Crown was willing to agree not to enforce his non payment of all the money, since he had to pay the pension tax.

Judge Tremberg agreed to adjourn for Crowther’s legal team to get written proof that he owed them the 40 per cent tax so he does not escape from paying the revenue.

He said only then would he consider varying the proceeds of crime order which requires Crowther to pay more than £20,500 to the courts.

He allowed Crowther to walk free and agreed the recovery proceedings could be resolved administratively if both sides agreed. If the order is not completed then Crowther could be jailed again in default.