Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 27 October 2020

Beauty-obsessed woman accused of trying to smuggle £2m to Dubai is 'unrecognisable' to friends

School friend says alleged money launderer ‘had a lot of work done to her face’

Tara Hanlon, 30, has been charged with money laundering after allegedly trying to smuggle nearly £2m to Dubai. Twitter
Tara Hanlon, 30, has been charged with money laundering after allegedly trying to smuggle nearly £2m to Dubai. Twitter

A British woman accused of trying to smuggle £2 million in five suitcases to Dubai was obsessed with plastic surgery, her friends say.

School friends told The National that Tara Hanlon had drastically changed her appearance since their school days by undergoing a series of facial surgery.

The 30-year-old was charged with money laundering after Border Force officers found £1.9m ($2.57m) stuffed inside five suitcases as she attempted to board a plane at Heathrow on October 3.

The haul was the largest cash seizure at the UK border this year.

Ms Hanlon had attended Yorkshire Catholic school, St Thomas a Becket, in Wakefield.

“She now looks very different to our school days,” one school friend said.

“She has had a lot of work done to her face. She was always pretty and a nice girl, but always obsessed with make-up. I hardly recognise her now. I’m really shocked to hear what has happened and I’m really surprised.”

However, Ms Hanlon’s grandmother, Maureen Downs, insisted she had a “heart of gold” and had “never, ever been in trouble”.

The 80-year-old told the Daily Mail: “I know my granddaughter and she would never do anything like what she is accused of. She has a heart of gold.

“She is a lovely girl and she had never, ever been in trouble.”

Mrs Downs suggested Ms Hanlon might be the victim of a set-up.

“I want to know if somebody switched her bags,” she said. “I can't see her having the confidence to go through an airport like that.”

Ms Hanlon lost her mother Angela in March and lived at her parent’s £140,000 three-bed semi-detached home in Middlestown with her two younger sisters.

Authorities said they seized nearly £2 million stashed in five suitcases. Border Force
Authorities said they seized nearly £2 million stashed in five suitcases. Border Force

Before her arrest, the 30-year-old was a beauty recruitment consultant at Goodall Brazier in Leeds city centre.

The company declined to comment on her arrest due to the ongoing criminal investigation.

Images of Ms Hanlon on the firm’s website show her changing appearance over the years due to her various surgery.

Ms Hanlon was an avid user of social media, especially Instagram and Twitter.

Her posts included photos of beauty products and images of her posing with friends, who include local models.

The accounts have since been deleted.

Ms Hanlon has been remanded in custody until November 5.

Updated: October 16, 2020 06:36 PM

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