‘Legal High’ Drugs Gang Mastermind Jailed
Paula White, a former director of defunct football club Chester City, lived in an £800,000 house, drove an Aston Martin and had a luxury villa in southern Spain.
The 46-year-old, from Eccles, Greater Manchester, masterminded a website and drugs factory operation which sold £3.5m of Class B substances around the world, Bolton Crown Court heard.
She made her fortune via a variety of business ventures, including money-lending, handbag design and beauty products.
In 2009, she developed a business plan for the sale of stimulants like mephedrone – legal at the time – through her Far East and Dutch suppliers.
In April 2010, the substances became illegal but she continued to sell them – marking them “not for human consumption”.
Passing sentence, Judge Peter Davies said: “As a result, you enjoyed a wealthy lifestyle, luxury house, lavish holidays and expensive cars. A lifestyle not enjoyed by others.”
White enlisted her former partner Netta Hymanson, 64, who she married in 2008. Although the relationship ended, they remained close friends.
Hymanson managed the Drake Mill factory in Farnsworth, Greater Manchester, for White, who distanced herself to minimise risk.
The court heard Hymanson was an “imposing and intimidating figure” there and was nicknamed “the headmistress”.
Judge Davies said: “It was sophisticated, professional and operated on an industrial scale. Almost everything manufactured and retailed through Drake Mill was illegal.”
Hymanson was given a four-year sentence after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs.
Police found more than 280kg of the drugs had been traded through her websites. One website alone had 18,500 registered customers.
When police carried out their search in May 2013 they seized 27kg of Class B drugs.
Judge Davies added: “The sale of legal highs causes serious harm.
“Apart from the sheer number of transactions from these websites the harm caused by this business has been unfortunately and graphically demonstrated.”
In July 2012, Grant Wooldridge, 46, from Newbury, died after ingesting the same substances found in the factory.
At his home, police found he had made purchases from one of White’s websites – Wide Mouth Frog – for MDAI and mephedrone, which were marketed as Jolly Bombs and Blue Pearls.
White also enlisted her brother, Christian White, 39, who helped manufacture and deliver the drugs on an industrial scale.
He was sentenced to four years in jail after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs.
Website builder Rudie Chiu, 26, was found guilty of the same charge, as was administrator Sheena Jessop, 47.
Both were handed sentences of two years, suspended for two years, four-month curfews and 300 hours’ unpaid work.
(c) Sky News 2015