A FORMER Leamington pub landlord is behind bars of a different kind as he has gone from serving pints to serving time after being caught with more than £180,000 of criminal cash.
Jason Docker, the ex-landlord of the Cricketers Arms pub in Archery Road, Leamington, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to a charge of concealing criminal property.
Docker, 51, of Warwick New Road, Leamington, who also had a controversial encrypted phone on him when he was arrested, was jailed for 22 months.
Prosecutor Paul Mitchell said on May 29 Docker was seen driving a black Chrysler Voyager northwards on the M40, and was followed until he turned off onto the A46 Warwick by-pass.
He was stopped and when the car was searched the officers found behind the front seat was a hidden compartment secured by a magnetic lock.
The officers forced it open, and inside they found four carrier bags containing £183,990 in cash.
They also recovered a phone which had the controversial and expensive EncroChat encryption software on it – which is said to be used by criminal gangs in Europe.
Mr Mitchell said until recently the phones had been considered impossible to access without the contents being deleted, ‘but it has recently been possible to do so.’
And information and messages discovered on the phone showed it had been used since at least April 1 to direct the picking up and distribution of large sums of cash.
“It can be attributed to the defendant from at least the 16th of April, because evidence shows it travelling to places all over the country at the same time that his own personal phone has travelled to them.
“And there are messages to pick up and to travel to particular places, and he then travels to those places.”
Rebecca Wade, defending, said: “We accept this was sophisticated in nature because of the hiding place, but he was only insured on that vehicle from two days before.
“It’s accepted he was a courier and was acting on directions, and it’s clear from the EncroPhone that he was being instructed where to go.”
Miss Wade said that for over 50 years Docker had led a law-abiding and blameless life.
After growing up in Leamington, he had moved to Australia in his early 20s and returned in 2014.
“He wasted no time building up a new life for himself. He took over the management of the Cricketers Arms pub, which he ran successfully until December last year.”
She said after leaving the pub in December, Docker sought odd jobs, but those disappeared when Covid-19 struck and he was then approached to ‘make deliveries.’
Recorder Falk told Docker: “You pleaded guilty to concealing criminal property, a substantial quantity of cash.
“Up until that point you were a man of good character, a hard-working man who had been the landlord of a pub in Leamington.
“I accept you are no danger to the public, and I accept you are unlikely to come before the court again.
“However, the fact is you took a gamble. You were prepared to take on a high degree of risk, and to do that you must have been expecting a high degree of reward.
“You were providing a service to sophisticated criminals. If that gamble fails, then punishment must follow.”