Police seize almost £40,000 cash hidden in a toilet

West Midlands Police have seized almost £40,000 hidden in a toilet cistern from a suspected money launderer.

A total of £38,610 was seized from her. Credit: West Midlands Police

Officers found the bathroom bounty during a drugs warrant executed at Helen Ross’s home in Dartford Road in Walsall on 26 September last year.

41-year-old Ross, whose social housing property boasted a new high-spec kitchen and conservatory, claimed the bulk of the money was from casino and online bingo winnings.

However, officers from the Payback Team at West Midlands Police’s Economic Crime Unit probed her bank transactions and betting accounts and could find no evidence of her landing any bumper winnings.

They discovered she had squandered thousands of pounds through online sites and had paid for extensive home improvements and a Range Rover Evoque despite having no clear income stream.

She initially contested the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) application to seize the cash but at Birmingham Magistrates Court on Wednesday dropped her defence in the face of compelling evidence put to the judge by Payback detectives.

A total of £38,610 was seized from her and will be put back into the public purse to be used on community schemes and crime prevention initiatives.

There was insufficient evidence to charge Ross with drug dealing following the warrant but that doesn’t mean we can’t pursue POCA proceedings to seize money or assets we believe are derived from criminality.

Ross previously worked part-time for a local company but had been off on maternity leave for quite some time while claiming housing benefit, child support and other benefits.

Despite this she was driving around in a £40,000 car and had renovated her social housing property to a standard way in excess of her means. She could not explain how she had been able to afford any of this expenditure.

Ross has flaunted her ‘wealth’ in the community for many years, driving expensive cars and going on lavish holidays, despite having very little legitimate income.

I’m sure news that we’ve seized the money will be welcomed by members of the community who get rightly frustrated at people living a high-earner lifestyle without actually working for the money.

– Detective Constable Yvonne Barwani from the Economic Crime Unit