British man given 41 months for his part in steroid gang.

A businessman has been jailed for his involvement in a multi-million-pound international operation illegally importing human growth hormones and steroids from the Far East.

When police arrested Andrew Fletcher at his Bradford home in 2008 they found £94,000 in cash hidden around the house, some in a shoebox in a freezer.

Post that arrived while officers were still searching the property included an envelope containing a further £4,000 in cash.

Michael Collins, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court yesterday officers also seized £12,000 worth of the drugs testosterone, nandrolone and clenbuterol.

Inquiries revealed that between October 2006 and 2008 Fletcher had sent £209,000 abroad and had visited China with Nicholas Aristotelous, the main conspirator behind two importation enterprises estimated to have had a £5m turnover over five years.

Mr Collins told the court it appeared Fletcher had been involved with Aristotelous at some time but later had a fall out with him and went his own way, and claimed at one stage to have had sales of 1,000 boxes a month of the human growth hormone nomatropin.

Fletcher, 41, of Penny Hill Drive, Bradford, admitted conspiring to contravene customs, possession and transfer of criminal property. He was jailed for a total of 41 months after also admitting failing to attend court in December when others involved in the conspiracy were sentenced.

Judge Christopher Batty told him: “You knew the problems of what you were involved with, bringing unlicensed drugs into this country which were simply being flooded on to a market which was completely unregulated.

“You knew the non-prescribed use of these drugs to some people could cause significant health problems.”

The judge said he had heard from a doctor that could include heart attacks, blood disorders, embolisms and blindness.

“You batted on regardless because you wanted the money and there were significant trappings as far as you were concerned.”

He said the fact Fletcher had nearly £100,000 in cash at his home at the time of the arrest “tells us clearly what the pickings were from this enterprise”.

Ian Harris, representing Fletcher, said his client’s involvement was on a much smaller scale than Aristotelous and ended with his arrest in 2008 unlike Aristotelous who had continued to trade even after his first arrest.

He said Fletcher was not in the best of health. He had got into using steroids when he was a body builder but had lost two stone in weight since suffering an injury to his shoulder and was due to have a scan on that on top of other medical problems.

Aristotelous, 40, of Roker Lane, Pudsey, Leeds, was jailed for seven years.

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