tears in the dock | 

Former England footballer cries ‘I can't believe it’ as she jailed for drug trafficking

‘It is a tragedy to see a young woman facing a sentence of imprisonment after leading a life full of past and continuing achievements’

Faye Dunn

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

A former England footballer blurted out "I can't believe it" as she was jailed for her involvement in a million-pound cannabis trafficking operation.

Faye Dunn, a successful businesswoman who worked as an accountant for a drug gang, broke down crying as she was taken down the cells after being sentenced to three years and nine months.

The 38-year-old mum became involved in the underworld when her business started to falter during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She instead went into the drug business with her dad Michael Dunn and operated using EncroChat - an encrypted communications platform commonly used by criminals.

After authorities gained access to the network in 2020, Operation Venetic subsequently revealed that the daughter had been using the handle StiffNinja while her convicted drug smuggler father went under the name ZincBat.

Faye Dunn was found to have been in close contact with a user known as LedZeppelin, with messages revealing she had "involvement in the supply and production of cannabis".

The Manchester Evening News reports that the mum-of-two was described as an "accountant for an organised criminal enterprise", while she had smuggled ill-gotten cash abroad.

Nicola Daley, prosecuting, said: "She played an operational role within the drugs supply chain but appeared to have significant influence upon others in the chain, facilitating meetings between criminal associates in relation to the supply of controlled drugs, and also instructed others to undertake tasks such as the collection and movement of packages of both drugs and cash.

"Significantly, she appears to have acted as the accountant for the organised criminal enterprise and has concealed not only her EncroChat device but also cash when travelling abroad in order to evade detection by the authorities."

Michael Dunn meanwhile handled and supplied drugs on his child's behalf and arranged meetings to transfer cash.

Ms Daley added: "It is the prosecution's case that Michael Dunn willingly carried out the handling, movement and supply of cannabis for his daughter Faye.

"He also met up with other handles and arranged meetings in order to transfer money."

Faye Dunn - a former director of several Merseyside companies, including a restaurant and a popular children's play centre – played international football for England U19s and turned out for Tranmere Rovers and Leeds United during her pro career

In total, Dunn is estimated to have been involved in the supply of at least 24kg of cannabis and was said to have "played a leading role within the criminal organisation". She also laundered £654,800 of dirty money from December 2019 onwards.

Michael Dunn was described as having a "significant" role and was directly involved in the supply of 5kg of drugs in just over five weeks before ceasing his involvement.

Faye Dunn was arrested on her return to Manchester Airport on June 13 and remained silent throughout her interview with officers. Michael Dunn was held on July 11 and also gave no comment.

Both defendants, of Walpole Avenue in Whiston, admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis and money laundering.

Nick Buckley, defending, pleaded for his client to be given a suspended sentence. During his mitigation, he referenced her previous involvement in setting up charity Onside - which offered support footballers released from professional clubs.

Mr Buckley said: "What the court is being asked to extend is a significant element of mercy to Ms Dunn because of the responsibility she has in caring for others. It is her responsibility that those others are being placed in this predicament.

"Her children are being supported, encouraged and their needs are being met fully by a supportive mother. One knows the damage that separation will cause those children and the difficulties they will suffer as a result."

But Dunn, who cried in the dock with her head in her hands at various points during the hearing, was jailed for three years and nine months. She began wailing as she was taken down the cells and said: "I can't believe it."

Sentencing, Judge David Potter said: "It is necessary at the outset to remark to you and others of the harm caused by trafficking cannabis. Cannabis can have profound, lasting effects on the brain.

"The human toll is dramatic. Threats of and the use of violence are endemic in the cannabis trade.

"Recent events in this city show how innocent people can get caught in the spiral of violence of organised crime groups. Quite simply, cannabis dependency wrecks lives.

"It is a tragedy to see a young woman facing a sentence of imprisonment after leading a life full of past and continuing achievements. You should have been thinking about your two young children when you became involved in serious organised crime."

Michael Dunn has 23 previous convictions for 39 offences. In 1986, he was jailed in the Netherlands in connection with burglaries and was later deported.

The pensioner was then jailed for nine years in Portugal in 2009 for drug importation charges. This came after he was stopped in a van while transporting 2.5kg of cannabis into Spain.

His defence counsel William England told the court that he is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and also suffers from cardiovascular and mobility issues.

The court passed a two-year imprisonment suspended for two years on Michael Dunn "as a measure of mercy".

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