expensive tastes | 

Glamorous engineer (29) secretly funded life of luxury by selling heroin and crack cocaine

Stafford from Hallgate, Cottingham, splashed the cash on nine watches and three expensive Louis Vuitton handbags

Danielle Stafford

Danielle Stafford

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

This is the 29-year-old engineer who bought a second home and secretly funded her life of luxury with designer handbags and foreign holidays by selling heroin and crack cocaine.

Danielle Stafford, a graduate from the University of Hull, had a long-running “additional cash income stream” which enabled her to live her life without touching any of the money from her normal salary.

Stafford from Hallgate, Cottingham, splashed the cash on nine watches and three expensive Louis Vuitton handbags and was only caught by pure chance when police spotted her speeding.

At 7.30pm on May 12, 2020 Police in Hull spotted a silver Audi heading along Priory Road towards the city centre.

Police followed the car and stopped it at The Odd Bottle car park on Wold Road. Police could smell cannabis coming from the inside of the car which aroused their suspicions.

Danielle Stafford

She told police: “I'll be honest, I've got this,” and handed them a small silver wrap containing two buds of cannabis skunk.

However, after the car was searched, a carrier bag of cannabis skunk worth £1,308 was found behind the driver's seat.

Police found further bags of cannabis on her, including a food bag containing cannabis skunk and, from a pocket, another food bag containing more cannabis skunk.

On the way to the police station, Stafford was seen “fidgeting” with her jogging bottoms.

Asked if she had any more drugs hidden, she said: “Yes, but it's not mine and I don't know what it is. I shoved it down my joggers when you pulled me.”

From between her legs, Stafford pulled out a bag containing a large amount of small bags of cocaine. There were 56 wraps of crack cocaine, valued at £2,800.

Police later forced entry into her three-bedroom end-terrace home in Cottingham and found a glass jar with plastic bags that was hidden behind a bag of coal bricks in a coal bunker in the rear garden.

There were 270 wraps of crack cocaine, valued at £13,500, and 205 wraps of heroin, valued at £4,100, in the jar. Stafford denied knowledge of them.

Wads of cash were also found in her bedroom and wardrobe.

Hull Crown Court heard that after she was arrested, a phone constantly rang with 30 calls or pinged with up to 20 drug messages. Police also later found £26,917 cash stashed around her home and drugs with a street value of £33,600.

Stafford admitted three offences of being concerned in supplying heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis and another of possessing cash as criminal property, on dates spanning October 2017 and May 2020.

She originally denied nine offences but then changed her pleas to guilty on four charges after the trial started.

Prosecutor Nadim Bashir said the police recovered text messages on Stafford's phone beginning in October 2017 and involving her directing another woman to complete £10 or £20 cannabis deals in her absence.

There were also lists of people who owed money.

“Even with rental or lodgings allowances, neither property was able to provide any significant source of income to justify the cash found in the house,” said Mr Bashir.

Stafford had claimed during police interview that a Liverpool man had been staying with her on and off and that he had telephoned to say that he had left something at her home.

When she got home, there was a large amount of cannabis and, when he asked her to take it to him, she said that she did not feel comfortable doing so.

She claimed that she grabbed a bag and was driving to meet him, but denied that she or the man were dealing drugs. She later admitted that she would drive to Liverpool and bring him back to Hull.

She denied knowledge of any of the large amounts of cash found around her home, claiming that she looked after it for the man, including keeping it for him in her own bedroom, apart from £2,350 which belonged to her.

Described in court as “enthusiastic” cannabis dealer, it is clamed that she had progressed to becoming a Class A cocaine dealer.

“She had somehow managed to avoid her drug dealing activities coming to the attention of the police for a substantial period of time,” said Mr Bashir.

Sentence was adjourned for reports and Stafford, who has no previous convictions, was allowed conditional bail.

She has previously spent lengthy periods in custody but was later allowed bail.

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