Crook used drugs farm cash to get teeth fixed

HE ALSO BOUGHT TAPAS BAR – BUT MUST NOW PAY BACK AT LEAST £173,000

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By NEAL KEELING

A CRIM­I­NAL used cannabis farm cash to fix his teeth and buy a tapas bar – but must now hand over thou­sands of pounds to po­lice.

Lee Bir­chall, 49, used the pro­ceeds from the un­der­world ac­tiv­ity to pay for £4,000 worth of den­tal work, as well as fancy jewellery and hol­i­days.

But he has been or­dered to pay back at least £173,000 or face jail af­ter a judge ruled that money flow­ing into his bank ac­count could not be le­git­i­mately ac­counted for.

Bir­chall, who now faces hav­ing to sell five of his six houses, was also said to have used the money to set up Ky­gos tapas bar in Mon­ton, Ec­cles, part of the area’s thriv­ing din­ing scene.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Bir­chall’s crim­i­nal deal­ings be­gan two years ago.

It came af­ter po­lice found two cannabis farms in a house in Pa­mona Cres­cent, Ord­sall, in March 2015.

When of­fi­cers went to ar­rest Bir­chall in con­nec­tion with the find, there was a de­lay in him open­ing the door and of­fi­cers later dis­cov­ered a bag full of cannabis he’d hid­den in his neigh­bour’s gar­den.

In Fe­bru­ary 2016, Bir­chall was sen­tenced to six months in prison, sus­pended for two years, for pos­ses­sion with in­tent to sup­ply class B drugs.

But de­tec­tives con­tin­ued to delve into his fi­nan­cial af­fairs be­hind the scenes - and iden­ti­fied as­sets they say were not bought with le­git­i­mate in­come and could only have been pur­chased through crime.

And at a con­fis­ca­tion hear­ing at Manch­ester Crown Court this week, Bir­chall was or­dered to pay back a to­tal of £283,981.

The con­fis­ca­tion or­der was granted on Thurs­day by Her Hon­our Judge God­dard, who said that if Bir­chall did not pay back at least £173,000 within three months he could face 18 months in prison and still have to set­tle the bill.

Po­lice say Bir­chall will have to sell five of his six houses in and around Sal­ford, as well the fur­ni­ture and fit­tings, to­gether with the lease for the tapas bar in Mon­ton.

He will also have to re­cover £40,000 he was found to have loaned to his sis­ter in 2015.

Ky­gos tapas bar in Mon­ton

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