A man from South Derbyshire has received a nine-month suspended prison sentence for his role in a £1 million illegal steroid empire.

Stephen Griffin, 51, of Russell Street, Swadlincote, who was recruited to receive 18 parcels at his home, got nine months, suspended for two years, with 150 hours unpaid work and two years supervision at Essex Crown Court yesterday.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class C drugs and two unrelated offences relating to possession of ammunition without a firearms certificate.

Griffin has previous convictions for dishonesty.

He was recruited by Colin Lathbury, 55, formerly from Burton but now of Ballachrik Farmhouse, Jurby East, on the Isle of Man, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class C drugs.

He got two-and-a-half years for his significant role in arranging outlets through his contacts in the gym community, organising sales and collecting money.

Lathbury had previous convictions for conspiracy to sell medical products without a licence in 1995.

Judge Charles Gratwicke told Lathbury he entered into the conspiracy “with gusto”. He organised outlets, collected money and set prices.

Griffin, said the judge, was a simple man who had been used by others.

Boss of the operation, Patrick Hyland, 48, of Great Saling, near Braintree, was jailed for four-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply class C drugs.

His estranged-wife, Hyacinth, of Little Waltham, had been described as the brains behind the business and received a two year sentence.

The illicit business which involved large scale importation of class C drugs such as nandrolone, testosterone and growth hormone was uncovered during a police probe into the suspected murder of steroid dealer Paul Duckenfield.

The drugs were sourced from the Czech Republic in huge quantities and Essex Police were tipped off by the Czech authorities who were intercepting phone calls and emails between a supplier there and Patrick Hyland from July, 2007, to October, 2008,.

Two vans filled with steroids worth £500,000, were intercepted by Prague police, at Calais and on the Czech-German border in September and October 2007.

Press release from Essex Police :

Three jailed for major anabolic steroids importation.

Three people have been sent to prison for their part in major drug importation involving anabolic steroids.

Patrick Hyland, 48, of Gt Sailing, his estranged wife Hyacinth Hyland, 56, of Little Waltham and Colin Lathbury, 55, from the Isle of Man were jailed on December 23, 2010.

Patrick Hyland pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class C drugs and was jailed for four and a half years.

Hyacinth Hyland was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class C drugs, perverting the course of justice and money laundering and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Colin Lathbury pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class C drugs and was jailed for two and a half years.

Detective Inspector Martin Pasmore of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “It has taken two years of painstaking investigation to prove the extent of Patrick Hyland’s involvement in this case. Together with his estranged wife Hyacinth and other associates, he was responsible for the importation of millions of pounds worth of anabolic steroids drugs over many years.

“We worked in full cooperation with our police colleagues in the Czech Republic who provided vital evidence of intercepted telephone calls between Patrick Hyland and an associate in Prague. These men arranged the production and delivery of steroids into the U.K.

“I am very grateful to my team, the Czech Police, Crown Prosecution Service and prosecution counsel for all their hard work and long hours putting this case together.

“Patrick and Hyacinth Hyland lived lavish lifestyles, owning several properties both here and abroad. We will now work with our colleagues in the financial investigation unit with a view to recovering the money they made from their crimes under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Three of the trio’s associates received suspended sentences.

Sanjay Mistry, 43, of Northolt, Middlesex, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class C drugs and was given 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years, 250 hours of unpaid work and a two year supervision order.

Michael Cork, 72, of Shalford, Braintree, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class C drugs and received 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years and a two year supervision order.

Stephen Griffin, 51, of Swadlincote, Derbyshire peaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class C drugs and possession of ammunition (unrelated to this case). He received nine months imprisonment suspended for two years for the drug supply,six months imprisonment suspended for two years for ammunition, 150 hours unpaid work and a two year supervision order.

Det Insp Martin Pasmore added: “It is important to remember that this investigation has run in parallel with the investigation into the disappearance of Paul Duckenfield who went missing around September 16, 2008 after flying into Stansted Airport from Portugal.

“I believe more than ever that Mr Duckenfield was murdered and that his murder was connected to his involvement with the supply of steroids.

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