Wigan drug dealer told to pay back nearly £70k in three months - or spend a year behind bars

A Wigan drug dealer who claimed cash hidden around his house was “Christmas money” has been ordered to pay back nearly £70,000.
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Stewart Melling, 35, was jailed for 12 months in December 2021 after pleading guilty to possession with intent to supply class B drugs.

It followed an extensive investigation by police in Wigan, who executed a warrant at his home in Platt Bridge in August 2020 and discovered cannabis worth almost £45,000, numerous phones and almost £15,000 cash.

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Cash seized by police from Stewart MellingCash seized by police from Stewart Melling
Cash seized by police from Stewart Melling
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When questioned by police, Melling maintained his innocence, but detectives were able to link the money to his criminal activity.

A court has now ordered him to pay back £69,862.71 within three months or he could face a further year in prison.

Det Insp Pat Wood, of Greater Manchester Police’s Wigan Challenger organised crime group, said: “This is just another way we go after criminals. Our specialist Challenger team, who are tackling organised crime, will use all tools available to hit the criminals where it hurts – their pockets – to make sure they cannot continue their lives of luxury once released from jail.

“For us, a conviction alone isn’t enough and these people who have exploited the most vulnerable people in our society to fund their own lavish lifestyles should rightly be made to pay this back so the wider community can benefit.

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"We would like to thank the public for their continued support in assisting our work by reporting and sharing information.”

Contact the police online or call 101 or 999 in an emergency, Alternatively, call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.