Blackpool lifeboat volunteer accused of money laundering in resort cocaine conspiracy

An RNLI volunteer has taken to the witness stand to deny allegations he laundered money as part of a class A drug conspiracy involving his stepbrother.

Friday, 25th January 2019, 1:00 pm
Updated Friday, 25th January 2019, 2:04 pm
Matthew Evans

Matthew Evans, who also runs Evans and Sons property improvement and repairs in Blackpool, was allegedly recorded on a hidden audio device planted in drug dealer Scott Le Drew's car handing over 'five' - thought to refer £500 or £5,000.

Eight months later, while Evans was working in Westminster, London, doing plastering work and bathrooms on the Scottish Secretary of State offices, his home was raided by Lancashire Police as part of coordinated strikes.

Evans, 33, of Peter Street, Blackpool, is the stepbrother of Kevin Tonner - also known as 'Tuna' - who was previously convicted alongside Le Drew and others of involvement in a class A drug conspiracy in the resort.

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Matthew Evans

The prosecution allege Evans was also linked to the operation because he handed over criminal cash to Le Drew in his car in July 2017.

Prosecutor Martin Reid revealed a list of nicknames and numbers recovered from Scott Le Drew's address during the raids in March, included "Tuna Bro" - alongside Evan's phone number.

But he denies money laundering and says he had no knowledge of Tonner's involvement in drugs.

The builder told jurors his stepbrother had asked him if he could lend him £500, and said if he couldn't get it he would send 'one of his friends' to get it from him.

Crown Court

He said: " He sounded quite frustrated and asked me if he could borrow the money. I said yes and he said he'd pay me back in a few days."

Evans claims he was contacted a few days later by Scott Le Drew, who said he had spoken to Tonner, and had been told Evans would give him £500.

The court heard the following week Evans got into Le Drew's car and gave him money - which was captured on a hidden audio bugging device planted in the vehicle.

The trial arises as a result of Operation Jennet, an investigation into alleged serious and organised crime on the Fylde coast.

Also in the dock are Philip Bennett, 38, of Branstree Road, Blackpool, Daniel Thornber, 37, of Dingle Avenue, Blackpool, Steven McIvor, 28, of Warley Road, Blackpool, Christopher Whiteley, 43, of George Street, Blackpool, Elaine Jackson, 56, and Ricky Jackson, 51 of Mardale Avenue, and John Johnstone, 60, of Bowland Crescent, Blackpool.

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Eight Blackpool residents in dock over alleged involvement in drugs conspiracy