CHURCH leaders and neighbours have spoken of their shock and support for a primary school governor and her businessman husband, jailed for laundering £162,000 of drugs cash.
Linda Wisdom, 52, and her husband Anthony, 55, of Dunelt Road, South Shore, were each sentenced to a year behind bars after being found guilty of laundering cash for a relative police believe was running a large-scale drugs operation.
The couple were described as pillars of the community and Mrs Wisdom had held the position of chair of governors at St Cuthbert’s RC Primary School in Blackpool, took part in church events and visited Lourdes with other churchgoers.
Father Stephen Shields of the Lancaster Diocese said the entire community was in shock.
He added: “Everyone has been moved by the amount of work they have done for the community.
“We are all shocked.
“Hopefully that good work will continue in the future and they have the support and prayers of people throughout the diocese.”
Prayers had been said for the couple as they went through an initial trial where jurors failed to come to a verdict, and the second trial which ended last week.
Police officers discovered the money stuffed into bags and stashed under the bed, in a wardrobe and lying on the floor of their home.
They believe the couple were storing cash for Paul Turai, Mr Wisdom’s step brother, and were not directly involved in the drug supply chain. Police raided the home after watching Mr Turai make a suspected drugs deal before heading straight to the address.
Mr Turai was arrested the following month and died two days after a violent struggle with police. He had swallowed packets of heroin and one of them had burst.
Tony Rostron, who owns Fylde Furniture and Bed Centre in St Annes Road, took over Mrs Wisdom’s old shop premises.
He said: “I just feel so sorry for them. It’s a real shame for them. That’s all I can say.”
A neighbouring business owner, who didn’t wish to be named, was incredulous.
She said: “I just can’t believe this has happened. Not to them.
“They’re a lovely couple and always helped others.”
Former customers at Mrs Wisdom’s former Juniper shop were also stunned.
Claire and Chris Baker, who live on Waterloo Road, had bought home goods in the shop.
Claire said: “I just can’t believe it – I’m totally shocked.
“It was a lovely shop and they were just such lovely people.
“Everyone knows them – I only spoke to her a few times but she was so helpful.”
Chris added: “I don’t believe what’s happened to them.
“There must be more to it than that. There’s no way they’d be involved in drugs.”