An underworld pharmaceutical wholesaler has become the first person to be jailed for dealing in the deadly party drug GBL.
David Wain, 48, sold the industrial solvent Gamma Butryolactone (GBL) to young clubbers as a recreational drug. The clear liquid is used to clean alloy wheels and remove graffiti but when ingested in tiny doses it can give a social high and increased sex drive.
Experts warned that it is extremely addictive and the smallest overdose can kill users or leave them in a coma. It became a class C controlled substance in December last year in the wake of a public outcry when a series of deaths were linked to the drug.
Wain ran chemical supply company Sourceachem from his one-bedroom council flat in Hayes, west London, and a garage at his elderly mother's home.
He was jailed for 12 years at Reading Crown Court after being convicted of a raft of drug offences, the Crown Prosecution Service said. The conviction brought to an end a remarkable career in which Wain exploited grey areas around the legislation of some pharmaceuticals.
The trained accountant was first arrested over claims he was selling methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, in 2006. He was not prosecuted and investigators from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) looked on as he moved into selling drugs that could be used to bulk up cocaine.
In 2008, Wain was arrested again and warned that his actions put him at risk of prosecution as large sums of cash were found at his home. But he continued to take advantage of a loophole in the law to supply more than 17 tonnes of analgesics, including benzocaine and lidocaine.
In September last year, Wain was arrested again and charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs and other offences. Wain was accused of conspiring with drug gangs operating in Bournemouth, London, Sheffield, Liverpool, Cardiff and Glasgow.
Investigators found Wain had banked almost £400,000 between 2008 and September 2009 but he could not name any legitimate clients. Officials found he did not keep any names or addresses for his bulk customers, using nicknames or initials instead.
While on bail and waiting to go on trial, he diversified again into selling large quantities of GBL. Police found he reacted to the move to outlaw the drug by asking customers to sign a disclosure saying they would not drink it.