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A FORMER Coventry nightclub boss has been jailed for 12 years for trafficking drugs and money laundering.

Stuart Reid, of Church Lane, Eastern Green, Coventry, made pounds 1 million importing drugs into the country from Spain, Birmingham Crown Court heard.

The 42-year-old former boss of the city's Eclipse and Tic Toc night clubs admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis resin worth pounds 500,000 at a hearing in September.

He also admitted laundering pounds 174,000, made from an illegal trade in pirate CDs.

Reid, who pioneered the rave club scene in Coventry, was sentenced to eight years for the drugs offences and four years for laundering cash at a court hearing on Saturday. The sentences will run consecutively.

Judge Alan Taylor also ordered the confiscation of pounds 600,000 Reid made from drug running and said he must pay pounds 10,000 in court costs.

Prosecutor Robert Juckes QC told the court that Reid, who has a large house, drove a top-of-the-range sports car and owns property in Coventry, made about pounds 1 million from drugs.

He was snared when officers from the Rugby-based National Crime Squad (NCS) swooped on an industrial unit in Harper Road, Lower Stoke, Coventry, in November 2002. They found 286 kilos of cannabis with a street value of pounds 1 million.

Detective Chief Insp Bob Blair, commander of the Rugby branch of the NCS, which spent a year investigating the syndicate, said: "Reid was the ringleader and led the lifestyle to match the significant sums of money that were being made.

"We are pleased that he and his cohorts are now behind bars."

And Det Insp Stuart Randle, who co-ordinated the investigation, added that Reid was the drugs kingpin in Coventry and his capture significantly reduced the amount of cannabis on the streets of the city.

Four other people were jailed after admitting their part in the conspiracy to supply drugs. David Rouse, 32, of Portsea Close, Cheylesmore, Coventry, was jailed for three and a half years. He was also jailed for six months for possession of ammunition and a further six months after a "tazer" stun gun was found at his home. The sentences are to run concurrently.

Neil Cleverley, 37, of Troyes Close, Cheylesmore, Coventry, was jailed for three and a half years; Richard Lilley, 30, also of Troyes Close, was jailed for two years, and Said Essaegh 37, of Upper Montague Street, London, was jailed for three years 11 months.

Another man, Robert Ellison, 32, of Birmingham Road, Ansley, Nuneaton, was jailed for one year for helping to launder Reid's dirty cash.

How Reid ran his million pound dealings from a simple city warehouse

STUART REID made pounds 1 million running a sophisticated drugs business which was disguised as a legitimate company.

And as well as drugs, he ran a lucrative trade in pirate CDs, raking in pounds 174,000 in just six months.

Acting Det Insp Stuart Randle, who led the two-year investigation into Coventry's drugs baron, said he was behind a professional organisation which had been running for some time. He said an import-export company had been set up as a cover which claimed to be trading motor parts between Coventry and Spain.

The highly-organised operation saw the drugs crated up and smuggled into the country.

They were then shipped on a lorry to his warehouse in Harper Road, Stoke, Coventry.

Mr Randle said: "It was a back-street garage operating under the name of CV Hydros. There was no legitimate business being conducted at these premises - it was purely set up to bring drugs in.

"It was a tried and tested route for bringing drugs into the country from Spain."

The investigation also looked into money laundering by Reid, who enlisted others to siphon cash through many bank accounts.

He was sentenced to four years for laundering cash between December 1999 and May 2000, which he admitted making through pirate CDs.

Nicholas Valios QC, who represented Reid, said Reid recorded DJs playing live and produced and distributed CDs to record shops.

He invested his cash in properties in Coventry which were then rented out.

Mr Randle said: "He has five homes bought with the proceeds of crime. His own home is worth three quarters of a million, with extensive grounds and stables.

"He had a Mercedes sports car for him and his wife.

"This was a man who was not working but purported to be a businessman."

The confiscation of criminal assets will see Reid's bank accounts emptied - Birming-ham Crown Court was told pounds 100,000 could be realised in a month, and his properties will be sold to pay off the remaining pounds 500,000.

Reid dealt in what police call "multi-kilo supply" - selling large quantities of drugs to middle-level drugs dealers, who would then pass it down the chain.

Welcoming Reid's 12-year sentence, Mr Randle said: "Ultimately these drugs would end up on street corners, certainly in Coventry and the West Midlands, as well as further afield. His network reached all over the UK.

"Through this investigation we have been able to disrupt and dismantle a significant drugs network, which can only be good news for the public."

Reid also had a professional interest in a city centre pub. Mr Valios told the court that Reid was involved in refurbishing the Green Room in Spon Street.

Men who helped the illegal trade

NEIL CLEVERLEY, 37, was Reid's warehouseman, said Robert Juckes QC, prosecuting.

Mr Juckes said Cleverley believed the shipments he was helping to arrange from Spain contained contraband cigarettes and alcohol, but he knew cannabis was also being sent.

"He said he received relatively small sums of money for what he was doing, but what he had done was set up this warehouse, he equipped it with a telephone, he had set up a bank account so payments could be made. All that was... at the behest of Mr Reid."

Police raided the warehouse at 4.20pm on November 19, 2002, and found eight boxes of cannabis resin containing about 60 bars of the drug. Another eight were found in a car parked there.

They struck as Said Essaegh 37, of Upper Montague Street, London, who had travelled to Coventry that day with his girlfriend, was collecting drugs.

David Rouse, 32, who was helping shift the drugs, tried to run away but was caught by police.

Richard Lilley, 30, was also arrested during the raid. Lilley told police he had been asked to help load the boxes, which he knew contained drugs.

Reid was arrested on March 18, 2003 and made no comment during police interviews.


BEHIND BARS: Stuart Reid in a police surveillance picture (above left) and as he was in the early 90s (above); the warehouse that was the base for his drugs dealing (left) and (far left) Neil Cleverley, Reid's warehouseman who was also sent to jail
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jan 12, 2004
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