Drugs cash woman freed

THE woman jailed for seven years for laundering butcher Mike O'Brien's drug-smuggling fortune was yesterday freed by the Court of Appeal.

Yvonne Edmond-O'Brien, who has steadfastly maintained her innocence, fell back in her chair and wept on hearing the court's decision.

She has spent more than three months behind bars, but her slate will now be wiped clean.

Her conviction was quashed after her Advocate, Dionne Gilbert, argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove that she had 'known or suspected' that the money she counted and banked each week was linked to drugs.As she walked free from the Royal Court, Mrs Edmond-O'Brien declared: 'I am ecstatic that justice has been done at last.'The Appeal Court, which sat on Monday to hear the case, ordered that the confiscation order made against her be abandoned and gave her permission to return to her former family home in Clos St Sampson, St Brelade.

The future of that house, however, remains uncertain as it is held jointly in both their names, with Mrs Edmond-O'Brien owning half.Speaking after the hearing, Advocate Gilbert said: 'It has obviously been a very long ordeal for my client.

She is clearly very relieved it's over and she is delighted that the Court of Appeal has done justice.'Mrs Edmond-O'Brien's estranged husband, butcher Michael O'Brien, who made a fortune smuggling heroin, ecstasy, cannabis and speed into the Island hidden in consignments of meat, had his sentence lowered from four years to one.

He had admitted money laundering, but despite the prosecution asking for a non-custodial sentence, the Superior Number decided to jail him.O'Brien served half of a six-year sentence in the UK after being caught with a large consignment of drugs at Portsmouth in 1998.

While giving evidence in the defence of Mrs Edmond-O'Brien, he told the Royal Court in June that he had struck a deal that he would admit the laundering offence on condition that he was not jailed.Co-defendant Michael Dunne, who was extradited from Andorra to stand trial for money laundering, had his sentence lowered from nine years to five.

His application to appeal against conviction was rejected.The confiscation orders against O'Brien and Dunne, which run into millions of pounds, will remain in place.Before announcing the Appeal Court's decision, Judge Richard Southwell, QC, said that he was not able to give reasons for the decision until a full report was ready.

That document is expected to be released within two weeks.All three defendants were found guilty by the Inferior Number on 5 June and were sentenced on 30 July.Judge Southwell, QC, was sitting with Judges Elizabeth Gloster, QC, and David Vaughan, QC.

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