The wife of a drugs baron jailed for an £8 million narcotics scam will lose her stake in the matrimonial home after a judge ruled that she “shut her eyes” to his crimes.
John Dawes (43) was caged for 24 years at Nottingham Crown Court in 2008 after he was convicted of conspiracy to supply drugs and money laundering.
The Crown later secured a £355,000 confiscation order against Dawes after a judge found that he had benefited from his crimes to the tune of around £8.2 million.
But lawyers for the CPS encountered difficulties securing the cash, and went to London’s High Court in a bid to force the sale of the matrimonial home - Copperfields, in Tudor Street, Sutton, worth almost £180,000
Their case was opposed by Dawes’ wife, Helen Dawes, who insisted that she retains a 50 percent interest in the property, and that it should not be sold without her consent.
Her lawyers argued that to seize her home, where she raised her son, violated her right to respect for privacy and family life, protected by Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Mrs Dawes stepped into the witness box during the hearing to insist that she had no inkling of her husband’s criminal activities until the day of his arrest in 2003.
She styled herself a homemaker whose role was restricted to looking after the family.
Asked whether she had any involvement in the family finances, she told the court: “I was just the mother of my child; I looked after indoors and was the homemaker.”
As far as she knew her husband was just a builder, she told the court, and she had no idea where the cash originated, which funded the purchase and renovation of Copperfields.
Mrs Dawes was not accused of any involvement in Dawes’ activities over the years, but the CPS claimed the High Court could be ‘satisfied’ that ‘the property was purchased with monies directly or indirectly...derived from Dawes.”
Mr Justice Collins said Mrs Dawes’ case would have been “stronger” had she not been ‘required to open and maintain’ various accounts and credit cards.
“That makes it more difficult to accept that her failure to ask any questions is something she can now rely on to show that she was a wholly innocent party,” he added.
The judge said he recognised that Mrs Dawes approached her marriage on the basis that her husband “dictated matters so far as finances were concerned.”
But he concluded: “It seems to me she has been shutting her eyes to what should have been obvious.
“To suggest that she thought her husband was earning solely from legitimate interests, when he was able to find substantial money to make the necessary purchase, is simply asking the court to believe too much.
“I am afraid that I am satisfied that it would not be disproportionate to require that Copperfields be sold.”
The court was told that Mrs Dawes has now moved out of Copperfields, and is caring for her elderly father.