Northern Ireland news

Bangor family home to be handed over to National Crime Agency

A family home in Co Down found to have been funded by drug dealing, money laundering or tax evasion is to be handed over to the National Crime Agency, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Simpson ordered possession of the house at Marlo Heights, Bangor where chef Aurang Zeb Khan lives with his wife Shakar and their three children.

But he put enforcement on hold for six months because two of the couple's offspring are due to sit school exams.

The judge said: "While I recognise that there will still be upheaval and distress, I consider that the stay will reduce the more significant impact on the children at an important stage in their education."

The case is linked to a National Crime Agency investigation into Mr Khan's Birmingham-based brother Alam Zeb Khan, a career criminal who served sentences for importing heroin, conspiracy to supply cocaine, and money laundering.

Following Alam Zeb Khan's latest conviction the NCA went after his family's assets.

In 2017 the High Court in England declared the home in Marlo Heights was recoverable under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

A judge held that the house, bought in 2001 for just over £99,000, had been paid for by money "derived from drug dealing, money laundering or tax evasion".

Three other houses, one in Bangor and two in Birmingham, were also covered by her order.

Based on that determination a trustee for the NCA went to the High Court in Belfast, seeking possession of the Marlo Heights property.

In evidence Aurang Khan said it had been his home for almost 20 years, with his children living there for their entire lives.

He described his history of drug use, maintaining he had been "clean" for the last six or seven years, but remained frightened of a possible relapse.

Ruling on the application, Mr Justice Simpson recognised the loss of a home represented an extreme interference with human rights.

He also acknowledged the impact on the family's three children, especially the eldest two who have exams looming.

"It is to be remembered that the children are wholly innocent," the judge stressed.

But he held that the family's rights must give way to the aim of the legislation in reducing crime.

"To refuse the plaintiff's application would result in the defendants continuing to benefit from the proceeds of unlawful conduct," he said.

Putting a six-month stay on enforcement, Mr Justice Simpson confirmed Aurang and Shakar Khan are to relinquish possession of the Marlo Heights property on August 21, 2020.

"This will allow the children to take those examinations which have to be taken

this year while remaining in the family home," he added.

"In addition, the stay will allow the defendants a substantial period of time to make enquires of the appropriate housing authorities... with a view to arranging accommodation for the family by the end of the school summer holidays."

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