Crime boss must pay up, rules judge
A High Court judge has revealed the lavish lifestyle of a "retired" crime boss and his actor wife - and told them they must pay for it.
The judge said the pair had a "liking for the more expensive items of life", and it was a lifestyle "neither is inclined to lose".
Opera lover Terry Adams, who became notorious as the head of a north London gang, failed to convince the judge that he and wife Ruth were too poor to pay £650,000-plus still owed on a confiscation order for the proceeds of crime.
Adams gave evidence that his family was living on expenses of £200 per week, paying rent of £250 and living on £23,000 - £24,000 a year.
He described as "laughable" Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) claims that he and his wife had an annual expenditure of £97,000.
He rejected accusations that he was using sham loans and companies to pay for visits to the Royal Opera House and expensive meals out at top restaurants including the Ivy, spa memberships at luxurious hotels, high cost dental treatments and other treatments at private clinics.
But Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, sitting in London, ruled the "pattern of behaviour" of husband and wife was consistent with past bids to conceal assets.
The judge dismissed Adams' application for a "certificate of inadequacy" to get the confiscation order reduced or cancelled on the basis that he has insufficient funds to meet it.
The order was imposed after Adams pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conceal the proceeds of crime between August 1997 and May 2003 through money laundering. He was jailed in March 2007 for seven years.
After today's ruling, the Crown Prosecution Service said steps would be taken to ensure Adams met the order - now worth £653,947.74.
The judge said by January 2012, after Adams had served his jail sentence, he and his wife had no income, save for some limited income obtained by Ruth from acting.
Mrs Adams recently appeared in Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East.
Adams had given evidence to the judge that he was so broke that he felt "like a ponce" living off his wife and denied having hidden assets that were funding a luxury lifestyle.
The judge said: "It is against that background that their spending falls to be scrutinised.
"What it reflects, whether it is restaurants, the spa at the Grove Hotel, designer clothes, costly dental treatment, the opera or the theatre is a liking for the more expensive items of life."
The judge added: "Even allowing for 'loans' from family or friends the nature of the spending points to the fact that there is a reserve of funds which can be and is utilised by Terence and Ruth Adams.
"The pattern of behaviour demonstrated by Terence and Ruth Adams is consistent with the original case against Terence Adams, namely of concealing his assets through associates and using companies to provide an apparent form of legitimate income."
The lifestyle they had enjoyed from the considerable fortune amassed by the end of Adams' criminal career "is one which neither is inclined to lose," said the judge.
Rejecting the evidence of Adams and his wife, the judge said extracts from the covert surveillance before he went to prison showed that he and his wife "were prepared to devise and execute stratagems for channelling Terence Adams's money to himself".
The judge described Mrs Adams as "a shrewd woman". Even in their own evidence, "the financial affairs of Terence and Ruth Adams are intertwined."
The judge added: "Theirs is a lengthy relationship, Ruth Adams has played her own part in it."
Nick Price, head of the CPS Proceeds of Crime department, said: "Through a series of nefarious means, Terry Adams has consistently sought to hide the proceeds of his crimes.
"However, today's judgment is proof of our determination to see that crime doesn't pay and that those who seek to hide their wealth will be challenged and held to account.
"Mr Adams argued that he couldn't afford to pay what he owed and yet his lavish lifestyle showed this was not the case."