Steroid smugglers who lived a champagne lifestyle funded by their massive illegal drugs racket have been jailed.
Patrick Hyland, 48, from Great Saling – the boss of the million-pound operation – was sent down for four-and-a-half years after admitting conspiracy to supply drugs.
His estranged wife Hyacinth, 56, of Little Waltham, described as the financial brains behind the operation, was sentenced to two years. She had denied conspiracy to supply drugs, conspiracy to acquire cash and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, but was found guilty last month following a lengthy trial.
The pair used their illicit gains to finance a lavish way of life, with huge sums of cash splashed on luxury holidays, homes, boats and cars.
Judge Charles Gratwicke said Patrick Hyland, of Vicarage Close, was “a major player in the murky world of the supply of steroids” which stretched across Europe to the Czech Republic.
“This was clearly a well organised and professionally run enterprise and you were undoubtedly at the centre, it was you who sourced the drugs, who arranged for their importation, who paid for them. You were the controlling hand.”
The illicit business involved the large scale importation of class C drugs such as nandrolone, testosterone and growth hormone.
It was uncovered during a police probe into the murder of steroid dealer Paul Duckenfield, 41, who was last seen at a restaurant near Braintree in September 2008, although no body has ever been found. An investigation into his death is ongoing.
The drugs were trafficked in huge quantities from the Czech Republic, hidden in children’s Lego toys. Police in Prague provided officers here with transcripts of intercepted phone calls between a supplier there and Patrick Hyland.
In 2007, they had stopped two vans packed to the brim with steroids that were worth £500,000, one at Calais and the other on the Czech-German border.
Hyacinth Hyland had actively involved herself in crime, said the judge, although she didn’t arrange for the drugs to be imported. “You were clearly someone who knows the ways of the world,” he told her.
During her trial, the jury heard she bought her £850,000 home in Wheelers Hill with a £700,000 deposit.
She had 11 bank accounts and Patrick had 17.
Police uncovered “house brick-sized” bundles of cash, totalling £87,000 in safes in a Shalford outbuilding used by Patrick Hyland’s company, along with “barrels of white tablets”, and containers of Lego.
After the hearing Detective Inspector Martin Pasmore said: “It has taken two years of painstaking investigation to prove the extent of Patrick Hyland’s involvement in this case. “Together with his estranged wife Hyacinth and other associates, he was responsible for the importation of millions of pounds worth of anabolic steroids drugs over many years.
“Patrick and Hyacinth Hyland lived lavish lifestyles, owning several properties both here and abroad. We will now work with our colleagues in the financial investigation unit with a view to recovering the money they made from their crimes under the Proceeds of Crime Act.”
At least £2 million has been traced so far through bank accounts and in properties.