Drug dealer's girlfriend who lied about having illicit cash is spared jail
A drug dealer's girlfriend who repeatedly lied about having money from her other half's illicit trade has been spared an immediate jail term.
Marie Berry, 37, lied to the police, to magistrates, and finally the jury at her trial, claiming the thousands seized from her were nothing to do with drugs.
But they saw through Berry's deceit and found her guilty of two money laundering offences at a trial at Swindon Crown Court last month.
Judge Douglas Field imposed a suspended sentence after hearing she had no previous convictions and worked as a carer for the old and vulnerable.
Police first raided her one bedroom first-floor flat in Neeld Crescent, Chippenham, on April 25 last year and found £6,660 in the bedroom.
Also seized were four mobile phones, numerous small self seal bag, scales and a bag which smelled strongly of cannabis.
And on her BlackBerry device officers found a number of photographs of money and drugs, one with a hand holding a wad of notes wrapped just like the seized cash.
Police raided again six week later, on Thursday, June 6, and they found a further £1,760 in the bedroom as well as two more mobile phones.
When she was questioned she first said the money came from a house she owned in Country Durham and let out.
But inquiries found not only did she not own it but had been the tenant there - and left leaving rent arrears.
Berry pleaded not guilty to both allegations but was found guilty Gemma White, defending, said there was never any suggestion her client had been involved in dealing drugs and she was also not a user.
She said Berry had a job as a carer for vulnerable people and end of life care, including some with Parkinson's disease.
Ms White said: "She is not the typical drug dealer's girlfriend living off the proceeds of crime."
Passing sentence Judge Douglas Field said: "You were convicted by the jury on very strong evidence of these two counts of possession of criminal property.
"From the very start you told lies: you told lies to the police, to the magistrates' court and to the jury. You deserve to go to prison, this case passes the custody threshold.
"You are a person who has no previous record and you have got a good worthwhile job. It is for these reasons I am prepared to suspend the sentence."
He imposed a ten-month jail term suspended for a year with 200 hours of unpaid work and ordered the confiscation of £8,420.