DRUG dealers have made it a happy Christmas for a fund-raising group set up in memory of a Rugby teen who died of cancer.
In Memory of Joel Smith is one of 20 organisations across Warwickshire to have received a share of Warwickshire Police’s £130,000 windfall from reclaimed drug money.
The Teenage Cancer Trust group, which has received £5,317, was set up in the name of Bilton School student Joel Smith, who died in March aged 15.
The cash was secured by the force’s Economic Crime Unit following the sale of a house bought with drugs money.
An earlier police investigation into the case, carried out in 2000, saw one of the dealers jailed for three years, and also ordered to pay a confiscation order of some £91,000.
But as the existence of the house was only discovered years after the initial investigation, officers looked for an alternative method of justice other than lengthy court proceedings, to recover the confiscation order cash.
And after working with the Crime Prosecution Service, the force was able to sell the house with all of the proceeds going to local good causes in the county, including organisations which support terminally and seriously ill children, together with community projects and scout and girl guide groups.
Warwickshire Police Chief Constable Andy Parker said: “This ruling sends a strong message that police and the courts will pursue anyone involved with criminal drug activity, see they are punished and where appropriate seize property acquired from illegal activities to help support the local community in a positive way.”
“I am really pleased that as a result of positive police actions local charities will now benefit from the donations.”
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball said he hoped the cash would make a significant difference in people’s lives.
He added: “This is a truly excellent example of Warwickshire Police working at its best – the hard work and innovative approach taken by the officers has meant that a lot of good can be achieved from what is essentially the proceeds of crime.”