Page last updated at 17:55 GMT, Friday, 11 December 2009

Gangster's widow told to pay back drugs cash

Court of Session in Edinburgh
The court heard the Smiths spent more money than they earned

The widow of a Glasgow gangster who once boasted he was "too smart" to be caught has been ordered to hand over thousands of pounds.

Lee Smith, 32, died at a caravan park in Seaton Sands, East Lothian, in 2006.

At the time he was a suspect in a police investigation into a double gangland execution.

A judge at the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled that Smith had made his money from drug dealing and his assets should be seized.

Action to recover his drugs profits began two years prior to his death.

Smith, who the court heard was an associate of underworld enforcer Paul Ferris, was never convicted of any drugs offences, although his name cropped up frequently in police intelligence reports and he was also spotted by under-cover officers during a number of surveillance operations.

Judge Lord Bracadale ordered that flats and a house in Glasgow, and cash from bank accounts belonging to the couple, be handed over.

The only possible explanation was that the money derived from the cash profits from drug dealing
Judge Lord Bracadale

The properties, which are the bulk of the confiscation were last valued in April 2006 at about £262,000.

The judge heard that accountants had compared the Smiths' legitimate income with sums they had spent on property during the decade before the drug dealer's death.

Figures before the court put the Smiths' total income between April 1997 and April 2002 at £34,313, but their spending was said to be £95,708.

The judge said: "The only possible explanation was that the money derived from the cash profits from drug dealing."

He also ruled that a tyre and exhaust fitting firm which Smith claimed to help run was simply a front.

Commenting on the ruling by Lord Bracadale, the Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini QC, said: "This is an important case demonstrating that the Civil Recovery Unit is resolved and determined to pursue illegally obtained assets even after the death of the respondent.

"The public have a right to expect that unlawfully obtained assets are recovered so that they can be put to good use in our communities."

Unlawful conduct

Smith was one of the suspects in the hunt for the killers of John Nisbet, 25, from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, and William Lindsay, 26, from Motherwell.

Their half-naked and badly burned bodies were found on a farm track near Elphinstone, East Lothian, in October 1999.

Police believed the two had been dumped there and set on fire after being tortured and shot in the Lanarkshire area.

The Court of Session also heard that Smith once boasted to James Anderson - a retired detective inspector - that he was "too smart for the police."

Ruth Crawford QC, seeking the recovery order, pointed out that it was not necessary to establish that a particular offence had been committed by a particular person - simply to show that the property and money had been obtained "through unlawful conduct."

Mrs Smith, appearing for herself, led no evidence but pointed out that her husband had no convictions for drug offences.

She said if he had been alive he would have been able to answer the allegations made by police.

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