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News Every Day |

I went from antiques trader to biggest meth dealer who got high with George Michael, all it took was an ecstasy tablet

RICHARD LUBBOCK was a teetotal antiques trader and opera-loving dad whose only brush with the law had been a speeding fine.

But when the successful businessman swapped trading trinkets for dealing in drugs, his life changed forever — even seeing him getting high with pop ­legend George Michael.

Richard Lubbock went from dealing coins to drugs
Prime Video
Prime Video
Reformed drug dealer Richard today[/caption]
Prime Video
An actor plays Richard in the new documentary[/caption]
Prime Video
A TV mock-up shows Richard’s flat strewn with pipes and weighing scales[/caption]

When 30 police stormed his East London penthouse on a chilly ­Saturday morning in December 2009, they found drugs with a street value of £1.5million.

It included the largest ever ­seizure of crystal meth at the time — one of the most potent and ­addictive Class A drugs known.

Vast quantities were stashed in ice cream tubs next to Richard’s favourite Magnum Classics.

Richard, now 77, still struggles to comprehend he even did anything wrong.

The former stockbroker says: “I wanted to tell the police, ‘Would you please go away?’.”

“It was a joke because I didn’t have that much stock [of drugs].

“I was having a good time but I don’t have any regrets.”

For his only son James, his father’s arrest was actually a moment of relief.

James, 46, says: “When I got a call from someone saying he was my dad’s solicitor, I thought he was going to tell me my father had been found dead. He was so ill from the drugs by this point, I was sure they would kill him. I tried to reason with him many times.

“I’d even discussed getting one of my friends to dress up as a police officer and turn up at his place to scare him off but then we thought how ridiculous that was.

“I didn’t know how big it [his drug dealing] was because I had no reference point, so I asked his solicitor. ‘Big’ was the answer.

“I was relieved he’d been caught red-handed.”

Richard’s shocking story of middle Englander to crime kingpin appears in a Prime Video documentary out today.

The two-part, true-crime series, called Breaking Dad: Britain’s Unlikeliest Drug Dealer hears from Richard, James and other contributors.

It tells how the well-to-do Jewish dad had worked alongside his father, Reggie.

Their family coin trading business, Lubbock & Son Ltd, ­operated from a shop in London’s prestigious Regent’s Street.

In 1976, Richard married his girlfriend, Marilyn, who he’d met while attending a charity committee.

The pair had James but when he was 19, they separated — and Richard’s descent into the underworld began.

He shaved his hair, got a large tattoo on his arm and ditched his tailored suits for tank tops.

Hitting the party scene with a new-found vigour he ditched Handel for hardcore drugs, taking ecstasy and cannabis. Before long he developed an appetite for crystal meth.

He used his coin dealing and maths expertise to get good deals — buying it in larger and larger quantities.

In his only interview ahead of the documentary, he simply ­reasoned: “The drugs made me feel free.”

‘England’s finest drugs’

On Friday and Saturday nights he’d dish out countless drugs at his penthouse in Limehouse, strewn with glass pipes, weighing scales and windows covered up with bin liners to keep his operation secret.

There were so many people sat around waiting for drugs that Richard admits: “It was a bit like a doctor’s waiting room.

“I was a compulsive buyer, a bit like I was with coins, and having that big [drugs] stock meant that whatever anyone asked for, generally I would have.

“I’m a hoarder. My late father really set me off on that track because he always used to try to buy the best coins available and the best quality. I carried on but then I also decided I would have England’s finest drugs, which wasn’t quite the idea.

“I had ecstasy and cocaine and one or two other things, pills of some sort, and crystal meth which was the most popular item I was asked for.”

Richard tried to hide the truth from his son until it became so obvious he confessed to selling “small quantities”.

James said: “It was a slightly surreal experience whenever I visited him.

“Most of the clientele were successful businessmen because crystal meth was an expensive drug at the time. They were mainly gay.

“Dad was, in a sense, the perfect drug dealer because he was very trusted.

“He approached the business like he did the coin business. He insisted he weighed all the drugs that were sold even if people said don’t worry.

“He was very personable, affable, completely approachable and not intimidating at all and he loved the company.”

His new pursuit even saw Richard smoking crystal meth at the home of the late singer, George Michael.

Prime Video
Richard with Marilyn on their wedding day in 1976[/caption]
Prime Video
A £1.5million stash was found alongside his ice creams[/caption]
Getty
Richard smoked with pop legend George Michael[/caption]
Supplied
James once tried drugs with his dad[/caption]

Richard said: “He lived in Hampstead which wasn’t far from me. A pal said he knew him and so off we went.

“The front door was open. He asked me: ‘Which song of mine do you like the best?’

“I said, ‘I don’t. I don’t know any of your songs.’

“He gave us a tour of the house and I think maybe there were a couple of puffs of something taken in his room. I was upset by his death because he was really friendly and a nice guy.”

On another occasion James took the drug with his dad.

James said: “I’d tried other drugs and curiosity got the better of me so I asked him for some.

“He resisted but I told him I was old enough to make the decision for myself and it was actually quite a nice bonding experience.

“We stayed up late and watched YouTube videos and stuff. I didn’t know how long I had left with him because he was such an addict. I just thought I wanted to, perhaps, be in his sort of universe to see what it’s like. I’ve never tried it since.”

“But a huge worry for me was that I had no idea who he was buying from or selling to.

“It would only take one crazy person to walk into his flat and shoot him dead so I was waiting for that call from police.”

By 2009, the police were indeed on to Richard.

Drug enforcement officers were aware that taxis were often used to courier drugs around East London.

I wanted to tell the police, ‘Would you please go away. It was a joke because I didn’t have that much stock. I was having a good time

Richard Lubbock

In one they found crystal meth, a drug not seen much in East London due to its relatively expensive cost.

It wasn’t long before they were able to zero in on Richard’s address.

His earnings did not appear to cover his costly penthouse and gold Rolls-Royce.

When they raided his flat he was asleep wearing nothing but a tank top with a World War II documentary was on the TV.

He was sentenced to eight years in prison, serving four on good behaviour.

James, a customer success lead for a software company, said: “I was convinced he wouldn’t survive prison.

“Ironically, the opposite happened. Prison saved his life.”

Richard thrived from the structure and rid himself of the toxic drugs, forging close friendships with inmates and officers — bonding with one over their love of opera.

He insists: “They were four of the best years of my life. I met a lovely, elderly prison officer. We both loved opera so would talk about that.”
In 2011, he even appeared in a special edition of Question Time which aired from West London’s Wormwood Scrubs.

James said: “That certainly restored some of my pride in my dad, I suppose.

“I’ve never sought to justify his actions because how can you?

“It’s a complex relationship. I still harbour some form of anger towards him but I’ve certainly forgiven him.”

‘Prison saved his life’

When James’s mother Marilyn died of ovarian cancer in 2008, Richard was so drug-addled he made them an hour and a half late for her funeral.

James, who lives in North London and has two daughters with wife Jo, 46, says: “I think I probably have been damaged in some way but I think talking about it now and again, and with the documentary, help. It’s another way for me to just process it.

In 2019, he wrote a book called Breaking Dad about his father but says his dad’s nowhere near as bad as Walter White in the Breaking Bad TV series.

James said: “I think the biggest difference is that Walter White became this cold, ruthless killer.

“My dad wouldn’t have harmed a flea. He’d also have been the last person in the world to know how to make crystal meth!”

Richard, too, laughed: “I don’t know who Walter White is but I’d have never carried a gun or anything. I’d have probably accidentally shot myself if I had.”

These days Richard is drug-free and to James’s daughters, who are ten and 12, he is just “Papa Richard”.

He has just celebrated his 77th birthday despite, perhaps, living on borrowed time after a heart attack in January.

His body has been ravaged by the drugs and his memory is fading but he still loves a good deal.

James adds: “In his heyday he was a socialite.

“He’d go travelling around the world doing business.

“Now his big trips are going to supermarkets like Sainsbury’s and finding their daily deals.”

  • Breaking Dad: Britain’s Unlikeliest Drug Dealer launches today on Prime Video
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