Trader denies link with drug running

A man has denied allegations that he continued the trade of a Lowestoft company after its owners were arrested on suspicion of supplying boats to drug smugglers.

A man has denied allegations that he continued the trade of a Lowestoft company after its owners were arrested on suspicion of supplying boats to drug smugglers.

Ian Rush, 42, told Ipswich Crown Court yesterday that while the business he set up produced the same type of high-speed craft, he did nothing illegal.

The prosecution alleges that Rush continued the work of Crompton Marine under the name of Nautesco Marine after Ellen George and Richard Neil Davison were arrested.

Customs officials claim that George and Davison, of Colville Road, Lowestoft, ran a reputable boatbuilding business in the town called Crompton Marine while at the same time manufacturing high-speed boats for use by drug smugglers.

It is alleged that the boats - which were virtually invisible to radar - were designed for use by criminals trafficking large quantities of illegal drugs between North Africa and Spain.

George, 41, has pleaded guilty to her involvement while Davison remains on bail in Spain where he is facing drug smuggling charges.

Most Read

Customs investigators searched the couple's home and discovered £1.2m stashed in holdalls, cupboards and under the stairs. When Davison's Spanish flat near Malaga was also searched, a further £39,000 in cash and one million euros was also found.

Rush, of Brand End Road, Butterworth, in Lincolnshire, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiracy to obtain criminal property.

Rush told the court that following the arrest of George and Davison, he decided to set up his own business to continue boat manufacture, but denied that some of the 50 craft he went on to produce were knowingly sold for illegal purposes.

While the end product was virtually identical to that built by Crompton Marine, Rush said that his business was entirely above board with proper accounts and records kept of all sales.

He denied that five visits he made to Spain to visit Davison in prison had been to plan the new venture, which the prosecution claim was intended to continue the work of Crompton Marine, but under a different name.

Rush admitted that he had paid Crompton Marine staff for the nine weeks they had been without wages following the arrest of George and Davison, but insisted that it had been a loan to be repaid when the company was able to resume trading.

The trial continues.