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By Mark Duell
PUBLISHED: 10:26 EST, 2 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:41 EST, 2 October 2013
The wife of a drugs mastermind spent thousands of pounds for haircuts and Botox treatments despite claiming to be reliant on state benefits, a court has been told.
Mother-of-two Diane Brookhouse, 41, denies being involved in a drugs ring which involved heroin and cocaine worth millions of pounds being smuggled into Britain through ‘fishing trips’ to France.
She collected her husband Richard - who masterminded the operation from his prison cell - on day release from Kirkham open prison in Lancashire and drove him to drugs meetings, the court heard.
Trial: Diane Brookhouse (left) collected her husband Richard (right) - who masterminded the operation from his prison cell - on day release from Kirkham open prison and drove him to drugs meetings, the court heard
Mrs Brookhouse, of Warrington, Cheshire, allegedly owned two iPhones on £80 monthly contracts and made 16 visits to a Toni and Guy hair salon in 13 months, spending an average of £81 a month.
Between June 2010 and June 2013, prosecutors claimed she spent £2,635 on Botox and fillers - and when arrested she had £400 cash on her and a £1,215 receipt for a designer Chloe handbag.
Neil Flewitt QC, prosecuting, told Warrington Crown Court she put down a large cash deposit on her rented property and ran expensive cars - a Mercedes CLC 180 Sport and a VW Golf convertible.
He added yesterday: ‘It is the prosecution case that Diane Brookhouse, who knew that her husband was a convicted drug dealer, knowingly helped him to run his business while he was in prison.
Fists up: Former amateur boxing champion Carl Wall, 36, was described as a 'wholesaler' for whom Mr Brookhouse arranged importations. He admitted conspiracy to supply controlled drugs
‘She did so, in part at least, in order to obtain the funds required to maintain a lifestyle that she could not afford to enjoy through legitimate means.’
'She (obtained) the funds required to maintain a lifestyle that she could not afford to enjoy through legitimate means'
Neil Flewitt QC, prosecuting
Mrs Brookhouse denies conspiracy to supply controlled drugs, as does alleged courier Stephen Crane, 55, of Lutterworth, Leicestershire.
He admits that he went on a number of fishing trips but denies that he was in involved in the importation of drugs. The trial is expected to last six weeks.
The court heard that cocaine and heroin were trafficked into Britain by a team of criminals using chartered fishing trip breaks to the continent to cover their drug runs. Sixteen of those involved admitted their various roles.
Trial: Neil Flewitt QC, prosecuting, told Warrington Crown Court (pictured) in Cheshire that the woman put down a large cash deposit on her rented property and ran expensive cars
include Mr Brookhouse, who used illicit prison phones to enlist
couriers to pick up drugs from abroad, and former amateur boxing
champion Carl Wall, described as a ‘wholesaler’ for whom Mr Brookhouse
Wall, 36, and his Liverpool partners Gerard Mooney and Darren Williams, would then arrange the distribution of the drugs across the north west to a string of dealers.
Outside court: Mother-of-two Diane Brookhouse, 41, of Warrington, denies being involved in a drugs ring
The web unravelled in April when officers swooped on two Manchester drug runners, Paul Harwood and his son, Steven, after they had returned from a supposed fishing trip to Orconte in France.
They transferred four holdalls filled with 80 sealed drugs packages containing 80kg of cocaine – worth £15million on the streets - £400,000 of heroin and a small quantity of the party drug M-Cat from a coach to a Ford Transit van they had left parked in Essex.
Mr Flewitt told the court: ‘This seizure was the culmination of a police operation that had lasted almost 12 months.
‘Paul and Steven Harwood were members of a large organised crime group who, between them, were responsible for the importation and distribution of large quantities of controlled drugs throughout the North West.’
Mr Brookhouse was jailed for 22 years in 2003 for importing cocaine and heroin. By spring 2012, he was being lined up for release and enjoyed regular periods of home leave from HMP Kirkham.
Mr Flewitt told how the 45-year-old man was acting on behalf of ‘major wholesalers of controlled drugs’ and used his network of criminal contacts to arrange the smuggling.
He said: ‘(Mr) Brookhouse coordinated the actions of his co-conspirators by his use of a number of mobile telephones smuggled into the prison and through a series of meetings held while he was on home leave.’
Wall, a one-time amateur light welterweight champion, of Halewood, Merseyside; Mooney, 30, of Aintree; and Williams, 38, of West Derby, were described in court as ‘significant drug dealers’ who liaised with Mr Brookhouse.
Andrew Wilde, 52, of Partington, Greater Manchester; Karl Glennon, 46, of Urmston; Paul Harwood, 50, of Urmston and Steven Harwood, 25, of Urmston, were the ‘transport team’.
Police officers believe that the drugs gang made six fishing trips in the year before the April raid, booked through a company specialising in French angling holidays.
Open prison: Mr Brookhouse was jailed for 22 years in 2003 for importing cocaine and heroin. By spring 2012, he was being lined up for release and enjoyed regular periods of home leave from HMP Kirkham (pictured)
Glennon and Harwood were among those to have booked packages to Orconte, which included car parking, coach travel, ferry, meals and fishing.
'(Richard) Brookhouse coordinated the actions of his co-conspirators by his use of a number of mobile telephones smuggled into the prison and through a series of meetings held while he was on home leave'
Neil Flewitt QC, prosecuting
The company, Dreamlakes, used a coach firm called Jackson’s to transport customers, who were given eight luggage labels and were responsible for loading and unloading their luggage.
Mr Flewitt added: ‘It is the prosecution case that all of the fishing trips identified as having taken place during the period of the conspiracy followed the same pattern and involved the importation of controlled drugs’.
Wall, Brookhouse, Mooney, Williams, Wilde, Glennon, Paul Harwood and Steven Harwood all admitted conspiracy to supply controlled drugs. They will be sentenced when the ongoing trial ends.
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