A convicted drug-supplier turned successful brewery owner has been given more time to pay off his £3.2 million debt, it has been ruled.
Julian de Vere Whiteway-Wilkinson, owner and co-founder of the London Fields Brewery, was sentenced to 12 years in jail in 2004 along with three others for conspiring to supply cocaine to a clientele that included celebrities, City traders and music industry figures.
He was later ordered to hand back his £2.1 million criminal profit with interest to the taxpayer.
However, District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe has allowed him to defer repayment until well into 2015 at the earliest.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday that Whiteway-Wilkinson had paid less than half the debt despite facing up to eight years in prison for non-payment.
The decision followed a plea by his barrister, Gavin Irwin, who said Whiteway-Wilkinson’s brewery was “heading” towards success and likely to be earning millions of pounds in the next two years, allowing his client to clear his debt to the taxpayer.
Irwin said: “The business is still in its infancy and every pound that is taken now makes it less likely to succeed. What we are asking is that the court doesn’t take any more money for a year or 18 months.”
The judge emphasised that Whiteway-Wilkinson would have to repay a “significant lump sum” within six months.
She said: “To put it bluntly, the court is less concerned with providing Whiteway-Wilkinson with a long-term career than it is with getting the money in.”
Roscoe added that promises of future payments were often not fulfilled and wanted to see evidence of London Fields’ ownership and set-up.
After being told that Whiteway-Wilkinson shared ownership of the brewery with his wife, she commented: “We have many people who come here showing assets that have suddenly gone to their partner or a dominant shareholding in a company that becomes less dominant. The court wants to see some reassurance that this is not suddenly going to disappear into the ether.”
Whiteway-Wilkinson’s family in Devon was under the impression that he was a party planner but had no idea what kind of parties he had been planning.
The trained pilot had been using a house in Hoxton to film cocaine-fuelled parties with naked women for his friends before his conviction in 2004.