Towie star's boyfriend could walk free from prison within weeks

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World Premiere of Keith Lemon The Film - London

The boyfriend of Towie star Cara Kilbey may walk free within weeks after being cleared of masterminding a multi-million pound drugs empire but jailed for possessing criminal property.

Daniel Harris, 33, was accused of making "vast profits" by sending drug couriers on mopeds disguised as trainee cabbies around central London over three-and-a-half years.

He was also charged over a £200,000 heroin deal which was scuppered by police in May 2015 and having £116,000 in ill-gotten gains hidden in his young daughter's bedroom.

An Old Bailey jury deliberated for a day to clear Harris of plotting to supply cocaine and heroin, but found him guilty of stashing the money.

He was jailed on Friday at the London court for two years for possessing criminal property, but he could be out from jail within weeks having already served almost a year in Wandsworth prison.

As he sentenced Harris, Judge Nicholas Cooke QC warned him that if he continued dabbling in the world of organised crime he risked ruining his life.

He told the seated defendant: "I warn you that associating with people of the type that you associated, which in this case has brought you to the Central Criminal Court charged with exceptionally serious offending, is likely to ruin your life.

"If there is any good in you, you should turn your back on such people.

"If you fail to do so, the future will be bleak."

Quizzed on £116,000 in bank notes found in his daughter's wardrobe following his arrest, Harris had told the court he was given it to help fund his father's legal defence against drug-smuggling claims.

He said: "It may well have come from crime or some sort of criminal activity but I don't know the origins of it."

Prosecutor Peter Clement told the judge that Harris had been "no mere custodian" of the money, but arranged for it to be gathered, collected it and kept it for weeks before it was discovered - "all with a view to smuggling to another jurisdiction".

He acknowledged the offence was not motivated by personal gain, instead arising "out of his father's crisis rather than his own".

But, he said, an aggravating factor was that the cash was tainted by organised crime and that its intended destination was outside the UK - Spain.

Defending, barrister David Whittaker told the court the unemployed defendant had no money and had not funded the costs of his trial.

Mr Cooke ordered him to pay £4,576 costs to be paid within 56 days and a victim surcharge of £120.

He said he was satisfied that, while Harris may not be able to pay the sum himself, he could draw upon others for assistance.

While three men watched proceedings from the public gallery, the defendant's TV star girlfriend was nowhere to be seen.

Harris, wearing a black V-neck jumper and tie over a white shirt, was sent down to serve the rest of his sentence behind bars.

Police launched a covert surveillance operation tracking Harris's movements over the course of more than a year before swooping to arrest him in March 2016.

Other men, some of whom were Harris's friends, went on to plead guilty to their part in the plots and have been jailed for up to 16-and-a-half years.

Evidence suggested the cocaine gang had a turnover of nearly £500,000 a week at the height of their activities.

They kept it under wraps by hiring an East End flat and lock-up where they stored six scooters and packaged the cocaine after it was cut with benzocaine.

He knew some of his friends were drug dealers and, after being let in on their secret during a ski holiday to Verbier in Switzerland, he made use of the moped delivery service once, he said.

Harris's father was arrested in December 2015 for allegedly smuggling drugs from Spain to the UK but Harris said that he in "no way" had anything to do with it.

The other defendants have already been sentenced for their various involvement in either or both of the drugs plots.

Joseph Maloney, 33, of Tower Hamlets, east London, received 15 years; Jay Tripp, 34, of Fyfield, Essex, 16-and-a-half years; Jack Lyman, 28, of Bexley, Kent, seven years; Danny Ward, 34, of Beckenham, Kent, 11 years; Nial Kellaghan, 29, of Greenwich, south-east London, seven years; Dean Standen, 34, of Sidcup, Kent, seven years and nine months; and Daniel Crook, 32, of HMP Peterborough, five years.

Frederick Jennings, 20, of south-east London, was handed 21 months' detention suspended for 18 months with 200 hours of unpaid work.