Manchester Crown Court
Rachel Duffy was given a 14-month suspended jail sentence at Manchester Crown Court on 20 July, 2017Wikimedia Commons/Rept0n1x

The wife of a drug baron who lived a life of luxury on criminal money has escaped jail after telling a judge she knew nothing of her husband's illegal empire.

Rachel Duffy, 37, walked free from court this week and reportedly celebrated with a glass of wine at an upmarket restaurant.

She used money from her criminal husband's drug empire to fund her luxury lifestyle, which included driving a Porsche, living in a £450,000 mansion, and sending her two children to a private prep school.

Detectives began investigating Duffy after arresting ex-husband Thomas Duffy, 42, when £700,000 of heroin and cocaine were found in a flat in Blackley, Manchester.

A search of their gated home in the affluent Manchester area of Alkrington also uncovered envelopes stuff with £1,000 in cash.

Duffy, who earned £13,000-a-year from her own small business, admitted converting criminal property but claimed she had been unaware of her ex-husband's activities.

She told Manchester Crown Court she first became suspicious of his drug use when he began to suffer bursts of paranoia. The couple split in January 2015, Manchester Evening News reported.

Her former husband was jailed for ten years for drug dealing during a separate case in 2016.

She was given a 14-month suspended prison sentence on Thursday (20 July) and was ordered to repay £50,000.

Despite now having a criminal record, Duffy was seen celebrating with a glass of wine after the court hearing in the city's top Italian restaurant San Carlo Cicchetti – a favourite haunt of Premier League footballers and TV celebrities.

Prosecuting, Hunter Gray was reported by Manchester Evening News as telling the court: "Following the arrest of her husband in 2015 and his conviction in 2016 his financial transfers were investigated and so were this defendant.

"Thomas Duffy was transferring money to his wife and they lived a cash lifestyle which was unsupported by their own income."

Defending, Charlotte Johnson said: "My client and Thomas Duffy married in 2010 but after a year of marriage he became quite unwell and the result of that illness was appalling behaviour towards the defendant.

"In 2011 he became extremely paranoid to the extent he would leave cameras around the house for fear of her cheating on him and this got worse and worse over the years. She has accepted that she should have asked more questions but she has always been intent on making sure the children were looked after.

"She has never been unemployed and has worked her whole life and when she became aware of his drug use she made him leave the marital home and that is why they split up – this was all before he was arrested."

Sentencing Rachel Duffy, Judge Martin Steiger QC said: "The defendant was living a lifestyle unfunded by the legitimate work she was doing.

"I must bear in mind the degree of involvement and that she was under some domestic pressure and her husband was treating her badly for a long period of time.

"Given the nature of this offence it can be suspended, not least because she is a mother of young children."