Published: 08:09, 09 September 2019
| Updated: 08:49, 09 September 2019
Gold bullion and designer watches worth tens of thousands of pounds were among a haul worth almost £1 million seized from a money launderer's hotel room.
This is the moment detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate uncovered the items after arresting wanted Stephen Burton.
Officers find cash and gold in Stephen Burton's hotel room
The 55-year-old had been staying in the London hotel on Valentine's Day.
Alongside him were gold bars, Krugerrand coins and other items worth £742,544; silver coins worth £8,460; £53,403 in sterling; 14,120 Euros; five designer watches worth a total of £110,000; five hundred lottery tickets; two passports in Burton’s name but with different dates and countries of birth; and several other false identity documents.
The detectives suspected that Burton, formerly of Frieth Road in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, had purchased the precious metals and watches in order to conceal money that had been earned through criminal activity.
He was later charged with money laundering and possession of false identity documents and pleaded guilty to both offences at Isleworth Crown Court, London, on Friday.
He was sentenced to three years and 360 days in prison.
Police had initially gone to the hotel in search of a wanted man from Tunbridge Wells.
Det Insp James Derham said: "The items found in Stephen Burton’s hotel room are worth a tremendous amount of money but he could offer no explanation as to where that money came from.
"We strongly suspect the reason for that is because it was earned via unlawful means, and we are continuing to investigate how Burton came to be in possession of such valuable materials.
"Money laundering is a serious offence and we go to great lengths to ensure people who attempt to conceal the proceeds of crime are brought to justice.
"Burton has found out the hard way that if you break the law then no amount of riches will save you from being brought before the courts."
More by this authorEd McConnell