A TAXI driver turned drugs chauffeur has not paid back a penny of ‘criminal cash’ – and now the case may grind to a halt yet again.

The prospect of another delay in the case of Worcester drug dealer Shakur Hussain has been raised despite the insistence by the city’s most senior judge that he would not accept further delays. Hussain was jailed in July 2018 after he ferried around drugs kingpin Asgar Khalfe and paid out thousands of pounds for apartments at Birmingham hotel City Nites so the rooms could be used as a crack factory. Yet he claims he made 'zero' cash and continues to resist attempts to claw back the money prosecutors say he made peddling class A drugs.

Judge James Burbidge QC warned counsel in July that there would be ‘no further adjournments’ and set a date of October 28 for the proceeds of crime application to be resolved. Steven Bailey, prosecuting, and Sophie Murray, defending, revealed at a hearing on Monday that they had been working to new dates of November 16 and 17. Judge Burbidge, who had said the case must be resolved this month, said: “I wonder where that date came from. I assess what trials go into the court. I see the timetable is already unravelling.”

Miss Murray said her client’s witnesses were not available on the earlier date and instructing solicitors had approached the court’s listings department, fixing the new date.

Mr Bailey said: “Correspondence from defence solicitors has caused that difficulty.”

The judge said the case would be heard on October 28 as he had originally stipulated and go ‘part heard’ if necessary so it could be finalised at a further hearing. Already three judges have presided over hearings about the financial aspects of the case – Judge Nicholas Cole, Judge Nicolas Cartwright and now James Burbidge QC. Judge Burbidge said the application would now be heard by a fourth judge – Recorder Paul Bleasdale QC.

Judge Burbidge said: “I will tell him to expect the case. He will be delighted as you can imagine.”

Officers swooped on Hussain’s taxi in Loves Grove in Worcester, near the city’s police station, on October 16, 2017. Inside the taxi was £1,890 of criminal cash and Hussain’s boss, Khalfe, described by the prosecutor as a ‘kingpin’ who used Hussain as cover to ‘stay under the radar’.

Hussain's arrest happened the same day a Worcester police officer was mown down by co-conspirator Christopher Franklin, then aged 35, during a failed getaway.

Hussain, 40, of Compton Road, Worcester, was jailed for four years in July 2018 after he was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

Two years on from his sentence at Hereford Crown Court, Hussain, now out of jail, continues to claim that the money in his bank account was earned by ‘legitimate’ means.

Hussain disputes the benefit figure calculated by investigators to be £65,066 – the amount the Crown Prosecution Service say he made for his role.

Judge Burbidge hit out at ongoing delays when he addressed counsel at Worcester Crown Court in July.

He said on the last occasion: “We have made no progress. It seems to me in all the courts I have worked in – Birmingham, Wolverhampton, here - these things are allowed to drag on and they shouldn’t be.”

The defence has instructed a forensic accountant but the report has still not been served on the Crown. Steven Bailey, prosecuting, said Hussain had £70,000 of equity tied up in a house in Worcester. He told the court the defence’s forensic accountant had identified a benefit figure of over £44,000 but this was also not accepted by the defendant.

Mr Bailey, who also prosecuted in the trial, said of the continued hearings and delays on the last occasion: “This is the fourth time we have said ‘enough is enough’.”

The judge asked Sophie Murray, defending, what her instructions were from about the benefit figure and she said his case was that there was ‘zero’ and added: “There is no benefit.”