A CONVICTED drug dealer who was part of a notorious Ashfield and Mansfield organised crime gang has died while still serving his 12-year prison sentence.
Paul Hardy was a key figure in the 2008 trial which also saw his brother and ‘drugs general’ Gary given a 20-year term.
He died at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre on 13th January.
An inquest last week was told the 51-year-old suffered a haemorrhage as a result of a kidney problem. He also had prostate cancer.
He had been admitted to the hospital while still serving his sentence at HMP Lowdham Grange, near Nottingham.
In a statement, a Prison Service spokesman said: “HMP Lowdham Grange prisoner Paul Hardy was pronounced dead at an outside hospital at 7.50pm on Friday 13th January 2012. It is believed he died from natural causes.
“As with all deaths in custody, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation.”
Assistant deputy coroner for Nottinghamshire Heidi Connor opened and adjourned the inquest into Hardy’s death on Thursday.
The hearing was begun as part of standard procedures following a death in custody.
Paul Hardy, then of Willow Avenue, Kirkby, was a crack-cocaine addict jailed in September 2008 for conspiracy to supply heroin, amphetamines and cannabis.
He was also convicted of collecting hundreds of thousands of pounds of drugs money across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
His brother Gary, then of The Copse, Mansfield, headed the operation.
He was convicted of flooding the area with huge quantities of heroin and amphetamines between 2000 and 2007.
In addition, he was found guilty of supplying heroin and amphetamines, of money laundering, and of having thousands of pounds in cash gained through criminal activities.
Paul Hardy’s former girlfriend Zoe Chapman, then 29 and also of Willow Avenue, was also given a 42-month term for supplying amphetamines to a dealer.
The brothers’ mother June Muers, then 66, also got three years after she was found to have kept drug money and stored amphetamines and cannabis at her former Pearl Avenue home in Kirkby.
At the time, investigating officers hailed the convictions as sending a ‘clear message to organised crime bosses; Nottinghamshire is a very bad place to do business’.
In 2009, Paul Hardy was ordered to pay back more than £15,000 by Birmingham Crown Court under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
A judge said Hardy would have to spend an extra year in prison if he did not pay back the £15,365 before the beginning of December that year.