A DRUGS baron who led a million-pound drugs gang has been ordered to pay back just £1 – and been given three months to do it.
Career criminal Steven Ellis was put behind bars for more than six years after an undercover police surveillance operation smashed his supply network which hit the streets of Wearside with cocaine.
Investigators pursued him under the Proceeds of Crime Act to enable them to seize any property, cash or any assets he had.
But at a Newcastle Crown Court hearing it was said Ellis has no assets to seize, despite personally benefiting by £155,688 through crime.
Prosecutor Ros Scott-Bell said: “I would invite the court to state that the benefit figure is £155,688 and he has no realisable assets.
“The prosecution would agree to a nominal order of £1.”
Andrew Finlay, defending, said he didn’t expect Ellis would need long to pay the £1 when asked by Judge John Evans how long he would need.
Judge Evans said: “I shall say three months.”
The drugs gang was arrested after a police surveillance team stopped a taxi heading from Middlesbrough to Sunderland and found half a kilo of cocaine, wrapped in a McDonald’s bag, in the pocket of a coat in the footwell of the passenger seat footwell.
Undercover officers had been tailing career criminal Steven Ellis and his network of drugs couriers and dealers he had under his control.
The half kilo seizure, which was 78 per cent pure cocaine and could have fetched up to a million pounds when diluted to be sold at street level, is believed to be just one of many shipments from Teesside to be sold on the streets of Sunderland.
At Newcastle Crown Court during a previous hearing Ellis, 42, was jailed for six years and three months.
At a later hearing John Connolly, 45, of Matford Avenue, Middlesbrouth, who the judge said was one step down from Ellis in the drugs “chain”, was jailed for five-and-a-half years.
Darren Rainton, 31, of Garnett Street, Sunderland, who was in the cab when the drugs were found and admitted involvement in eight separate drugs runs, was jailed for four years.
Ellis’s common law father in law Gordon Ellis, 52, of Vale Street, Sunderland, was jailed for four years for his involvement in one just one trip.
They had all admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Darren Wild, 42, of Kitchener Street, Sunderland, Anthony Warwick, 35, of Edward Street, Middlesbrough and David Standing, 59, of Marshall Avenue, Middlesbrough, were all given suspended 12 month prison sentences, with various requirements, for being concerned in the supply of the drug.