A CONVICTED drug dealer and his wife have been ordered to pay back nearly £450,000 of their ill-gotten gains.
Brian and Katie Ferguson lived a life of luxury using cash from his drug-dealing empire, which they used to build a three-storey “manor house” at The Fold, near Doxford Park, complete with “panic room”.
It was kitted out with luxury furnishings, including a grand piano.
But Newcastle Crown Court heard that Brian Ferguson could be left to live on state benefits when he is released from jail, after he was ordered to pay back £441,915.56 of the £587,000 he made through his crimes.
He was jailed for 10 years after pleading guilty to drugs conspiracy charges relating to his part in a £5million plot.
Katie Ferguson, 31, was convicted of entering into or becoming concerned in a money laundering arrangement with her 47-year-old husband between August 2005 and January 2007 and false accounting after a three-week trial at Newcastle Crown Court in July last year.
She was also convicted of entering false information on a mortgage application form in 2006.
The court heard that the couple’s house, originally thought to be worth £950,000, has been taken under the order and its actual value is just £152,000, due to poor-quality materials and workmanship.
Brian Ferguson’s several other properties in Dean Street and Stockton Terrace, both in Sunderland, and barns and land he owned at Dalton-le-dale, Seaham, have also been confiscated to be sold.
Ten thousand pounds worth of jewellery was taken from a safe located at the manor house, along with a grand piano worth £2,000 and other items in the house valued at £1,850.
Brian Ferguson signed over his bank accounts to the courts yesterday and their cars- including a Citroen C3 worth £1,925 - were seized under the act.
Prosecuting, Christopher Knox, said: “The asset pool is dramatically reduced, but the important thing is that the assets that were seized from this convicted drug dealer have all been handed back to the Crown.”
Abigail Coghill-Smith, defending, told the court that Brian Ferguson – who was jailed in 2009 – would be left with nothing when he is released from jail in 2013 at the earliest.
She said: “The defendant is about to be devastated of absolutely everything that he and his wife possess.
“The earliest release date is July 2013.
“He will leave prison with absolutely nothing and will have to live on state benefits because he doesn’t have a business.”
Judge David Wood QC warned Ferguson that he would be given further prison sentence if he failed to pay off the debt within six months of yesterday’s hearing.
He said: “You will be facing four years’ imprisonment in default if it is not paid.
“I hope this breaks, in the end, your involvement in the courts.”
Judge Wood also made Ferguson the subject of a five-year Serious Organised Crime Prevention Order, whereby Ferguson must report all of his financial dealings to authorities.