Matriarch jailed over drug deals
The matriarch of a notorious criminal family has been jailed for two years for her part in her two sons' drug dealing operation.
Brothers Jason and Ian Fitzgibbon, and their mother, Christine, were caught after authorities seized 126lb (57kg) of heroin in Turkey and followed the trail back to Liverpool.
They "convicted themselves by their own words, in their own house", police said after they hid a listening device in the family's detached home in an affluent Merseyside suburb.
When the address in Edale Road was raided, officers found more than £180,000 in cash, most of it stuffed under the floorboards.
Christine Fitzgibbon, 60, was described by prosecutors as effectively the "banker" of the operation who stored the money from their illicit dealings. Jason led the business and was responsible for importing the drugs, while Ian took charge of supplying to the streets of Britain.
The Crown said drug dealing and money laundering under their control took place on an "enormous scale" between 2008 and 2011. They used well-established criminal networks in the UK and abroad to generate vast amounts of profit.
Sentencing the grandmother of seven at Manchester Crown Court, Judge Michael Henshell said: "You are a significant figure in this case. You knew precisely what you were involved in. You knew precisely where the money was coming from and I am quite sure you enjoyed the lifestyle that came with it."
He conceded she must have been influenced by her sons but was "capable of making her voice felt in the house".
She pleaded guilty to money laundering at an earlier hearing.
Jason Fitzgibbon 40, of Crofton Mansions, Crofton Estate, North Sudley Road, Liverpool, was jailed for 16 years after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import heroin and money laundering, while Ian Fitzgibbon, 39, of Heigham Gardens, St Helens, was jailed for 14 years and six months after he admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and ecstasy and money laundering at earlier court hearings.