A university graduate with a penchant for luxury secretly funded her lavish lifestyle of designer handbags, foreign holidays and second homes by selling heroin, cannabis and crack cocaine.

Danielle Stafford had a long-running secret second job that meant she never had to touch her engineer's salary. She was only caught by chance when police caught her speeding – and her empire began "unravelling before her very eyes".

Her phone lit up with calls and texts after she was arrested and cops later found over £26,000 in cash and £33,000 of drugs stashed in her home. Hull Live reports she was "awash with cash from her drug dealing business", according to remarks delivered at Hull Crown Court.

Stafford, 29, of Cottingham near the English city, admitted three offences of supplying heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis, and another of money laundering, all between October 2017 and May 2020. She had originally denied nine offences and was facing trial before entering four guilty pleas.

Nadim Bashir, prosecuting, detailed how police recovered text messages from her phone that saw her directing another woman to deal cannabis in her absence. "Make sure he pays," reads one of the messages she sent.

Danielle Stafford funded lavish holidays abroad with drug money
Danielle Stafford funded lavish holidays abroad with drug money

Mr Bashir said: "A group message was sent out by Danielle Stafford advertising a list of the types of cannabis she has to sell and their prices." Other group messages advertising sales of drugs, including cocaine, were also sent out.

The prosecutor continued: "This went completely unnoticed by the police until one day in May 2020 when her manner of driving was noticed by the police and was the start of this case unravelling before her very eyes." Cops searched Stafford's Audi over after it was spotted speeding in Hull, cutting corners and cutting up traffic.

Officers followed the car to a car park, where they could smell cannabis coming from inside the vehicle. Stafford "immediately lied" to police, telling them: "I'll be honest, I've got this" and handed them a small silver wrap containing buds of cannabis.

But police searched her and the car and recovered bags full of cannabis worth over £1,300. As Stafford was taken to the police station, her phone lit up with calls and messages and she was seen "fidgeting" with her jogging bottoms.

Challenged, she produced a bag containing 56 wraps of crack cocaine valued at £2,800 from between her legs. She said: "It's not mine and I don't know what it is."

Cops then raided her three-bedroom end-terrace house and found crack cocaine, heroin, herbal cannabis, weighing scales and cash. Three Louis Vuitton handbags were found, as well as nine designer watches.

Danielle Stafford tried to pass off the cash and drugs at her home as someone else's
Danielle Stafford tried to pass off the cash and drugs at her home as someone else's

Examination of Stafford's bank accounts revealed that "she clearly had an additional stream of cash income" apart from her monthly wages from working for Swift Group. Holidays had been taken but there was no trace from her bank account of her buying foreign currency or making purchases overseas.

She bought her home in March 2016 for £124,999 – and another home in Hull. "Again, evidence of an additional cash stream income," said Mr Bashir.

Stafford had bought her Cottingham home in March 2016 for £124,999 in her sole name with a mortgage and a property in Hull for £64,927. But prosecutor Mr Bashir said "neither property was able to provide any significant source of income to justify the cash found in the house."

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She initially claimed to cops that the drugs and cash belonged to a man from Liverpool who had been staying with her – a claim described by Mr Bashir as "frankly absurd".

He said: "She had somehow managed to avoid her drug dealing activities coming to the attention of the police for a substantial period of time. The natural result of this was that she was able to accumulate a substantial amount of wealth, including purchasing an investment property, a house to rent.

"Cash found in her home address amounted to £26,917. The amount, type and value of drugs found at her home were substantial.

Danielle Stafford has been bailed ahead of sentencing
Danielle Stafford has been bailed ahead of sentencing

"It is, frankly, absurd to suggest that they were for her personal use or even belonged to some other unknown third party. The drugs alone were street valued at £33,600.

"Danielle Stafford has been associated with the supply of Class A and Class B drugs for a significant period of time. Her wages were paid into the bank account but were left to accrue because she never withdrew any cash for her day-to-day expenditure.