Thursday, December 01, 2011

Benefits culture

What benefits frauds do with their ill-gotten gains:

For the past decade, the Whitney family have been spoken of in hushed tones on the backstreets of Anfield, just a stone’s throw from Liverpool Football Club. Drug addicts turned to them when they needed their next hit of heroin or crack cocaine. Those unfortunate enough to live in the same street as the family’s semi may have whispered about the carrier bags of cash exchanging hands on the Whitneys’ doorstep, but they turned a blind eye for fear of reprisals.Seven members of the clan were jailed last week at Liverpool Crown Court, making them one of Britain’s most shameless — and dangerous — families.

The Whitneys made hundreds of thousands of pounds from what police have described as a ‘24-hour drugs cash and carry service’. They were caught after one of Merseyside police’s largest surveillance operations. During the 18 months officers followed the family, they saw an accomplice throw 2kg of heroin, with a street value of £120,000, from the window of a speeding Mercedes in a bid to avoid being caught with it.

The Whitneys’ arrogant police mugshots make a gruesome mockery of the traditional family photograph. At the head of the clan is Leslie Whitney, a 57-year-old former factory worker known as the Godfather. His estranged wife Carol, 54, was nicknamed the Banker by police officers, who discovered thousands of pounds in cash hidden at her home, as well as cocaine and 12 kg of uncut heroin. The couple’s three children, Paul, 33, Lisa, 31, and Anthony, 30, were found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, along with Lisa’s boyfriend Wayne Hincks and Leslie’s girlfriend, Emma Mackenzie, 29. Emma’s mother Mary McCabe was also part of the gang. When police searched her car, they found a stolen SA80 assault rifle, stolen from an Army base, and 1,200 rounds of ammunition.

But for the Whitneys’ innocent relatives, many of whom live in Liverpool, the past week has been filled with shame and humiliation. They are struggling to come to terms with how this once typically hard-working family deteriorated into a feared drugs gang. ‘They’ve brought shame on the family,’ says one relative, who asked not to be named.

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