Court orders Brighton street trader to repay £195k profit from drug deals

Posted On 20 Aug 2011 at 6:45 pm

A Brighton street trader has been ordered to pay back £195,000 from the profits of drugs deals.

James John McCue, 66, laundered money for a prolific drugs gang which operated in Brighton and Hove and was headed by his son, James Parker-McCue.

Parker-McCue, 30, Old School Place, Hangleton, also laundered the profits through his girlfriend Kelly Cooke, 32, of the same address.

Cooke and James John McCue were jailed for three years for money laundering in April while James Parker-McCue was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug dealing last October.

Yesterday (Friday 19 August) the Crown Prosecution Service sought a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act at Maidstone Crown Court.

James John McCue, who lived in Highgate Court, Crawley, and rented a street trading pitch from Brighton and Hove City Council, was ordered to repay £195,217.

Earlier this month, on Monday 1 August, Cooke was ordered to repay £1,350 at a similar hearing, with £84,000 more to be repaid in the future if further assets were realised.

Parker-McCue was ordered to pay £7,670 at the same hearing with a balance of £605,000 to be handed over if further assets were realised in the future.


Crown advocate Anthony Hill said after the case: “This network made a lot of money on the back of supplying cocaine.

“James John McCue helped to convert the proceeds of their crimes into assets which he hoped would not be traced back to their source.

“He and wife travelled extensively, spending over £25,000 on holidays and leisure breaks for their family since March 2003.

“Yet the Inland Revenue held no record of employment or self-employed earnings for Mr McCue.

“They bought a £32,000 Mercedes motor car for their son James Parker-McCue and his partner Kelly Cooke, assisted with a purchase of property in Spain and lavished thousands of pounds on beauty treatments and cosmetic dentistry for Ms Cooke.”

The holidays taken by the McCue family included trips to Barbados, Varadero in Cuba, St. Lucia, Nassau, Rhodes, Egypt and Jamaica.

James Parker-McCue was extradited from Spain after being arrested on his 28th birthday in the apartment in Alicante which had been bought with illicit funds.

The €220,000 apartment has since been repossessed.


Mr Hill said: “Although James John McCue rented a plot from Brighton and Hove Council as a street trader he held no books for the business.

“He feigned confusion about his records and accounts when interviewed by police, but knew what he was involved in.

“He initially claimed to be a successful gambler but expert examination of a ledger of his ‘winnings’ demonstrated this to be a sham deliberately constructed to account for a hidden source of income.

“Mr McCue sought to portray himself merely as a generous father whose paperwork was in a muddle.

“We were able to prove that he was far more cynical and calculating than that.

“The reason such enormous gifts were being lavished on his son and partner was that this was the son’s drug money in the first place which was being laundered for his benefit.”

On the same day that Parker-McCue was jailed for nine years, three other gang members were also sent to prison for conspiring to supply cocaine. They were

  • Fergus Gilman, 41, of The Lichfields, in Basildon, Essex, and formerly of St Margaret’s, Rottingdean, was sentenced to five years
  • Shaun Clancy, 43, also of The Lichfields, in Basildon, Essex, and formerly of St Margaret’s, Rottingdean, was sentenced to five years
  • Darren Simpson, 43, a manager for Brighton and Hove City Council, of Coney Furlong, Peacehaven, was sentenced to six years and three months

In August last year Simpson’s partner Darren Graysmark, a Sussex Police Special Branch officer, was jailed for 16 months for laundering more than £80,000.

Darren Graysmark

He was ordered to repay £85,000 at a hearing in December last year.

Their arrests followed a covert operation by the Sussex Police Serious and Organised Crime Unit which uncovered their network between October 2008 and April 2009.

Mr Hill added: “This is the end of the road for this gang and the confiscation of their assets prevents the proceeds of their activity from being reinvested into other criminal acts.

“The scale of their illegal business demonstrates how important it is that the network was dismantled and the individuals involved were brought to justice.”

More than £1,000,000 has been confiscated or ordered to be handed over.

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