Live updates

Officers welcome sentence of fraudster sisters

A senior police officer has welcomed the sentencing of two sisters who returned to their money-laundering ways just weeks after being released from prison.

Det Sgt Derek Tinsley, from West Midlands Police's regional asset recovery team, said the behaviour of Bo and Yam Li showed their lack of remorse.

It took just three weeks for the Li sisters to return to their criminal lifestyle and to try and use their dirty cash.

They clearly have no remorse for the way in which they obtained this money and wasted no time in trying to spend it on their release from prison.

We will probably never know where the money was hidden for the last few years but we are convinced it was kept from the original people trafficking operation and other related crime.

I hope this serves as a reminder to those who seek to profit from the misery of others that we will pursue them relentlessly, regardless of the passage of time and we will always take action to put ill-gotten cash back into the public purse.

Crime simply does not pay.

– DS Derek Tinsley, West Midlands Police

How police tracked down hidden dirty money

Police began to have suspicions about fraudster sister Bo and Yan Li when they were caught using £20 notes which went out of circulation in 2010 - while they were still in prison.

Bo, aged 46, and Yan, 43, had been jailed for money laundering cash from the human trafficking operation which led to the death of 21 cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay in 2004.

The packages of dirty money Credit: West Midlands Police

Before officers had chance to search their hotel room in Chippenham, however, Yan Li's 64-year-old boyfriend Philip Freeman took £22,000.

Together with Bo Li's 65-year-old boyfriend John Bowkett, hid it by burying it in Bowkett's back garden.

Freeman was caught on CCTV taking the money (left); and some of the cash discovered buried in Bowkett's garden (right) Credit: West Midlands Police

All four were charged with money laundering.

The sisters were jailed for two years each, while Freeman was given a four-month jail sentence suspended for one year, and Bowkett was given a six month community order.

Both men were also ordered to pay £10,000 in court costs each.


Cockle-picking tragedy fraudsters back behind bars

Two convicted money launderers who hid cash raked in from the human trafficking operation which killed 21 cockle pickers almost a decade ago have been sent back to prison.

Sisters Bo and Yan Li, who worked from addresses in Shirley and Dudley, were jailed in 2009 for their part in the tragic scam, which earned them an estimated £1.07million.

Bo Li (left) and Yan Li are now back behind bars Credit: West Midlands Police

They were ordered to pay back the sum - but a court heard they managed to hide more than £22,000 of their dirty money, which they tried to spend within weeks of being released.

The original charges related to the death of 21 Chinese cockle pickers who died while working illegally in Morecambe Bay in 2004. They had been trapped by the incoming tide and drowned.

The pair were jailed for two years each at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday.