Shop owners’ shock after beauty therapist revealed as £1.5m cocaine smuggler

Shop owners have voiced their shock after a neighbouring beauty therapist was exposed as a drug smuggler.

Stephanie Nelson was jailed for 10 years after being caught with 15kg of cocaine, worth £1.5million.

The drugs were hidden in a sophisticated purpose-built hide in the boot of her car, the Liverpool Echo reports.

Nelson, 30, who owns Porsche Cosmetics in Liverpool, is believed to have funded her luxury lifestyle, by trafficking drugs across the country.

Other business owners neighbouring Porsche Cosmetics, spoke of their shock after Nelson was sent to prison last week.

Speaking about the mum-of-one, from Wilmslow, one shop owner who did not want to be identified, said: "We didn't know anything about the arrests or court case until we saw it in the paper over the weekend.

"I don't know the girl, only to see her around the shops, but I would never have thought there was anything untoward about her.

"Everyone around here is very hardworking and we all check in on each other so it was surprising to hear this.

"I imagine everyone who knows her is very shocked too but you just never really know what is going on with people. They only tell you what they want you to know."

The mum-of-one was operating her business, Porsche Cosmetics, from an address on Larkhill Place, just off Queens Drive. The building also contains another beauty salon next door called Hello Gorgeous.

A hastily pinned up Hello Gorgeous banner was covering the signage for Porsche Cosmetics, although the Facebook page still advertises both businesses.

Nelson was arrested on June 10 this year after a National Crime Agency investigation found that she was not only using her beauty company to fund her lifestyle.

On the day of her arrest, Nelson was observed driving her Hyundai iX35 into the car park of The Yeoman pub in Bearsted, Kent.

In the car park she met John Markham, 53, from Enfield, who was waiting in a white van and handed over two black holdalls.

Nelson, who lived in Wilmslow, drove off and was stopped a short time later in the Dartford Tunnel.

During the initial inspection no drugs were found, but a more detailed search revealed 15kgs of high-purity cocaine within a sophisticated and magnetised purpose-built hide in the floor of the boot.

Nelson was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to supply cocaine, and Markham, who claimed to be unemployed but appeared to be living way beyond his means, was detained for the same offence later that day at his home address.

Markham was also jailed for ten years when they both appeared at Maidstone Crown Court on July 18 and pleaded guilty.

Adam Warnock, NCA Branch Commander, said: “Drug trafficking was Nelson’s passport to a high-rolling lifestyle – an expensive house in Cheshire and exotic holidays all over the world – but it was very high risk and now she is behind bars.

"We believe the drugs run we observed was her sixth one this year.

“Our work does not stop here though as we will seek to confiscate assets belonging to Nelson and her criminal associate Markham to ensure they no longer benefit from their criminality. The investigation into the wider drug trafficking network is also ongoing.

“Cocaine is an attractive drug for organised criminals because of the potential profits, but we know the groups active in drug distribution are also often involved in street violence, intimidation and exploitation.

"This is why we take this type of activity so seriously, and we are determined to do all we can to disrupt it.”

A proceeds of crime hearing will be held in December.

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