A MAN sold a car that did not belong to him to pay off loan sharks after he got into financial difficulties while being investigated in connection with a £3m heroin deal.
Jonathon Wheatley, 28, found himself out of cash and out of work when he was investigated as a result of his father and uncle, Gary and Glen Wheatley, importing 12 kilos of high-grade heroin, before the charges against him were later dropped.
He was investigated in connection with a conspiracy to import a high quantity of heroin on a bus.Defence solicitor Jason Smith
The two brothers had hid the shipment in a secret compartment on one of the coaches belonging to their firm G&G Travel, as it returned from a trip to a Belgian Christmas market, in 2011, with a group of unsuspecting pensioners on board. Both admitted conspiracy to contravene prohibition on the importation of class A drugs.
Glen Wheatley, 45, of Bowes Lyon’s Avenue, Easington Lane, was subsequently jailed for 12 and a half years, while Gary Wheatley, of Station Avenue, Fence Houses, was jailed for six years.
But after months of being unable to work, Jonathon Wheatley turned to a loan shark to borrow £800, Sunderland magistrates heard.
Having bought a Volkswagen Jetta on a finance deal, he decided to sell it on to raise cash to pay the loan shark, who was putting him under increasing pressure to settle his debt.
“The defendant bought a car legitimately on finance terms, he paid just under £300 back,” prosecutor Paul Anderson said. “The finance was still in place so he wasn’t legally the owner of the vehicle, but he did sell it on in the intervening period to deal with various debts. The car is now back with the finance company and it seems the third party has been reimbursed.”
Wheatley, of Station Road, Hetton, admitted theft between March 3 and March 25 last year.
Jason Smith, defending, said: “The stupidity goes back to when the car was bought, the interest was such an exorbitant amount he ended up owing £17,000.
“He’s paid back £10,000. The car was only worth £2,000 when he sold it.
“The whole situation has been quite shocking. Mr Wheatley got himself into some difficulties as a result of recent proceedings against him which left him unable to work.
“He was investigated in connection with a conspiracy to import a high quantity of heroin on a bus. No evidence was offered on the day of the trial. His dad and uncle made admissions.
“At the time, Mr Wheatley couldn’t work. He got himself in to rather serious financial difficulty. He has borrowed £800 from a loan shark. In the space of a month it was £2,100.
“He advertised and sold the car for £2,200 and repaid it. Then he couldn’t pay off the finance. He was arrested and the car has been recovered. He has now paid back the person who bought it. The only person who is going to be in loss in this whole sorry saga is Mr Wheatley.
“He is now in employment and taking a plastering course.”
Wheatley was fined £100 and told to pay £50 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.