A WOMAN described in Chester Crown Court as "a gangster's moll" has been sentenced to a community order for money laundering.

Cenzi Laura Davey, 31, of Housman Close, Chester, was partner to a drug-dealing ringleader in Ellesmere Port, the court heard on Tuesday, July 2.

She had previously pleaded guilty to three charges of allowing her bank account to be used for money laundering between 2014 and the start of 2018.

Honorary Recorder of Chester Judge Steven Everett said he hoped the community order, to include 80 hours of unpaid work, would be "humiliating" for Davey, with her "self image", as she would have to wear the orange jackets as part of being seen giving back to the community.

The court heard Davey was the partner of Billy Neil, father of their three children. Neil was part of an organised crime gang which dealt crack cocaine and heroin in Ellesmere Port.

He was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison in September 2018 and, at a subsequent Proceeds of Crime Act hearing in March this year, ordered to pay back £135,230 of his ill-gotten gains.

Prosecuting, John Oates told the court police went to Davey's home address on November 6, 2018 and she was initially arrested on conspiracy to supply drugs, but that was not pursued.

But examination of her bank accounts showed large amounts of credit being paid which could not be explained, as she was on benefits for herself and her three children.

Mr Oates told the court the total sum of money laundered was around £17,000, a figure contested by defending solicitor Jo Maxwell, who said Davey could explain all but £5,000 of the credit.

Honorary Recorder of Chester Judge Steven Everett said the difference in sums would not make a significant difference to Davey's sentence and she would be sentenced on the basis she had laundered £5,000.

Mr Oates added when interviewed, Davey made reference to "Billy Neil's balloon business" – a bouncy castle firm.

Davey had one previous caution on her record for theft from May 2008.

Defending, Ms Maxwell said the sentencing hearing "had been preying" on Davey's mind, with the risk of going to custody.

There had been a level of susceptibility in the relationship between Neil and Davey.

Judge Everett, sentencing, told Davey: "Do you know what? You come across as a gangster's moll, as someone who is happy to be associated with criminal activity.

"You have three relatively young children; from their perspective their dad is doing a long prison sentence for supplying evil substances on the streets, and mum has supported their dad in that limited way.

"You know that was criminal property, you knew it was not just a bouncy castle business, if indeed there was one. You won't persuade me you did not know he was involved in that criminal activity.

"I am prepared to accept the dynamic, that he could be coercive and controlling, but ultimately you have had three children with a serious drugs dealer, putting his evil substances on the street that create death.

"That is why you should be ashamed. You were no doubt prepared to reap the benefits of that money.

"You only have one life – you can be a gangster's moll or you can bring your children up to be decent people, even if their father is not.

"You allowed your bank account to be used for three years from drug activity. Drug dealers do have difficulty getting rid of their money. There comes a point where they have to launder it, like a bouncy castle business or their partner.

"I see somebody who is prepared to close their eyes to the activity. If you think for a moment – if we had had a trial – you would have been packed off to HMP Styal for 18 months, you would not have been with your three children while you were sitting in a horrible prison cell. I hope this is getting across to you."

Davey was sentenced to a two-year community order with 20 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement.

As Davey began to get upset in the dock, Judge Everett warned her: "Don't think while you are upset now, that in four months time, that has worn off, 'I will breach the order'. Any breaches will be ordered back to me and my options are limited. I could be sending you through the door at the back [to the prison cells].

"I feel unpaid work is going to be hard for someone like you, with your self-image; putting on orange jackets is going to be humiliating. I hope so, because it's meant to be a punishment.

"That will take you through the summer holidays, it will take you away from your children.

"I am giving you a chance; don't forget this moment. I don't want to see you again, and believe me, you really don't want to see me again."