A DRUG conspirator has admitted storing thousands of pounds in criminal cash inside a new-build Warrington home.

Ian Fitzgibbon appeared before Liverpool Crown Court this morning, Wednesday, to face charges related to the supply of drugs using encrypted criminal communications.

The 29-year-old was previously cleared of the murder of Ashley Dale, but he was later charged by Merseyside Police in an investigation into drugs supply.

The defendant, of no fixed abode, but previously of Heigham Gardens in St Helens, confirmed his identity to the court when asked by way of name and date of birth.

Merseyside Police confirmed in February that, following extensive inquiries carried out as part of Operation Venetic, officers arrested a man at an address in Liverpool on February 20.

Fitzgibbon was subsequently charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin and possessing criminal property.

Operation Venetic is the British investigation into the EncroChat criminal encrypted communications network which was cracked by French law enforcement in 2020.

The drug supply charges alleged that the defendant conspired together with other persons unknown to supply quantities of cocaine and diamorphine in Merseyside between September 1, 2019, and June 12, 2020.

The third charge was that he possessed £12,000 in cash, knowing or suspecting it was obtained through criminal conduct, from an address on Lullington Close, Rivers Edge, Warrington, on February 20 this year.

Fitzgibbon entered guilty pleas to all three charges, but disputes quantities involved in the drug conspiracy, particularly the supply of 50kg of heroin.

Judge Andrew Menary, presiding over the hearing, adjourned proceedings to May 17, when the defendant will either be sentenced or face a trial of issue.

He was further remanded in custody until this date.

Fitzgibbon was unanimously acquitted by the jury last year following a trial of his involvement in the murder of Ms Dale.

James Witham, Joseph Peers, Niall Barry and Sean Zeisz were all convicted of the 28-year-old council worker’s murder during the same trial and jailed for life, with minimum terms of more than 40 years.