A DAD who moved stolen loot for his notorious crime family has been ordered to pay back £250,000 or be jailed for a further three years.
John Bridge handled stolen goods to the tune of more than £1.2m for his three sons, while his family claimed £50,000 a year in a ‘basket’ of state benefits.
But the 48-year-old claimed he was penniless and could not pay anything back during a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing at Warrington Crown Court on Tuesday.
He said: “I’ve never lived a lavish lifestyle, I’ve never been on holiday. I’ve got no forms of money coming in apart from my disability (allowance).
“I feel like I’m being hung here. Most people you speak to say (I’m) alright, he’s not like those kids.”
But the court heard how the Bridge household received £31,000 a year in income support, tax credits, family living allowance and disability benefit, while contributions to council tax benefit
increased their welfare to £50,000 a year.
The defendant also ensured nearly £800,000 of jewellery disappeared, stolen by sons John Jnr, Alan and Luke during a series of violent burglaries in 2009.
He was the mastermind of the operation as they targeted high value homes including nine in Warrington.
The court heard how he made threats when police arrived at the defendant’s home address on Barnes Road, Widnes, in 2010 to arrest son Luke.
Bridge boasted of having access to £250,000 and that he could ‘sort out’ the officers.
A mobile phone recovered during that raid contained a picture of Bridge’s granddaughter lying on a mound of £50 notes amounting to tens of thousands of pounds.
Bridge, who is currently serving a four-year sentence after being convicted in September last year for conspiracy to handle stolen goods, denied any knowledge of the ‘ill gotten gains’.
Prosecuting, David Potter said: “There was a significant amount of cash lying around and there had been since 2009.
“He must take joint responsibility for the assets taken from the burglaries.”
Judge Nicholas Woodward decided that Bridge had managed to hide a large sum of money and was lying about its existence.
He ordered him to pay back £250,000 in six months or have three years added to his prison sentence.