A WORLD powerlifting champion and gym-owner from St Ives has been given a suspended jail term for selling banned steroids to clients all over the world.
David Gladwell, aged 36, of Madison Close, Hayle, ran a website selling the drugs, which can be used to make athletes stronger and more muscular, to customers in Europe, North America, Australia and the Far East.
At Truro Crown Court on Monday he admitted nine counts of possessing different types of steroid – Class C drugs – with intent to supply and possessing a prohibited weapon, a CS gas spray.
Gladwell was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years, ordered to carry out 200 hours' unpaid work and made subject to a three-month curfew between 9pm and 7am daily.
Philip Lee, for the prosecution, said police who raided Gladwell's home on July 5, 2012, found various substances valued at £56,000.
Samples were analysed by experts and while the majority were found to be illegal, some were packaged for sale as steroids but were, in effect, fake steroids.
The offences came to light after a joint investigation by the Cornwall Financial Investigation Unit (FIU), Penzance CID and drug liaison officers. Information obtained from a number of online forums relating to steroid use and supply indicated Gladwell was one of the top ten suppliers in the country.
In interview, said Mr Lee, Gladwell "confirmed most of them were for sale and he confirmed he ran the website and had been doing it for about one and a half years".
Gladwell also told officers he knew what he had been doing was illegal and estimated that he had made around £100,000 from it.
Gladwell, who runs Evolution Gym at St Ives Rugby Club, has won a number of powerlifting titles, including one last November at the World Powerlifting Union Championships in the Netherlands, and Brian Fitzherbert, for the defence, said steroid use was commonplace in the world of powerlifting.
"This defendant got into the supply of these drugs because he saw clients who were still competing going about steroid use in a totally unsafe way," he said.
Mr Fitzherbert said Gladwell used the website to advise customers on safe ways of using the drugs.
Gladwell's partner, Susan Davies, was originally accused of the same drugs offences but she was cleared in December after the prosecution offered no evidence against her.
The court heard there was no evidence the drug dealing was in any way connected with Evolution Gym.
After the hearing, financial investigator Detective Constable Mark Heffer said the seizure of drugs was significant, and indicated the size of Gladwell's business.
"It's one of the largest seizures of its type in the UK," he said. "The cash in his bank accounts that's restrained by the FIU, in the sum of £114,000, shows the amount of money that can be made in this illegal trade."
Confiscation proceedings are due to be brought against Gladwell in an attempt to seize some of the cash from his criminal activities.