Sunderland drug dealer in £750,000 cocaine plot ordered to pay back just £1

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A DRUG dealer jailed after playing a key role in a £750,000 cocaine plot has been ordered to pay back just £1.

Daniel Chisholm is currently serving a 12 year sentence for his part in setting up a cocaine factory at a flat in Washington.

Chisholm was jailed along with three others - Ronald Moon, Joseph Lewins, and John Somerville - for a total of 35 years following the case which saw former Black Cats star Michael Chopra give evidence at Newcastle Crown Court.

Yesterday a Proceeds of Crime hearing was told Chisholm’s available assets, and amount he has to pay back, is just £1.

Somerville benefited by the same amount. The assets he has available to pay back is £16,094.

Ex Premier League star Chopra became embroiled in the case after claiming a £50,000 bundle found in the footwell of a Jaguar belonging to one of the gang was money being used to pay off his gambling debts – not drugs cash.

The money was in fact linked to a “cocaine factory” which had been set up in the Washington flat belonging to Joseph Lewins.

Lewins’ flat, at Malvern Road, was used to process, package and distribute high-grade cocaine, and was kitted out with the necessary equipment to do so.

Prosecutors claimed the £50,000 cash was part-payment for a 68 per cent pure, two kilogram batch, seized at the flat by police who had the gang under secret surveillance in the weeks before their arrest in 2010.

During the trial the gang said the allegations against them were “ridiculous” and tried to shift the blame onto the late Stuart Mottram, a man known in Sunderland as “Benny the Brick”. However, the claims were dismissed as an “absurd defence”.

Chopra gave evidence for the defence, claiming the £50,000 in a black bin-bag in the car being driven by Moon, was being used to pay off loan sharks.

The footballer told the court his family came under threat as he struggled to pay back cash he had blown through his £2million gambling addiction, which had started “taking over his life”.

Lewins, 55, of Malvern Road, Lambton, Chisholm, 51, then of Franklin Street, Millfield, Sunderland, and Somerville, 53, of Sheringham Avenue, Kenton, Newcastle, all denied conspiracy to supply Class-A drugs throughout the trial.

All three were found guilty.

Moon, 48, of Severn Road, Kirkby, Liverpool, pleaded guilty at an early stage to possessing criminal property in relation to the cash. Somerville and Chisholm were jailed for 12 years each, while Lewins was sentenced to nine years. Moon, who claimed he knew the money he was transporting was for illegal purposes, but did not know any exact details, was sentenced to 15 months behind bars.