Drug smuggler gets 16-year jail term

A DRUG smuggler has been sentenced to 16 years in jail after being convicted at Ipswich Crown Court.

A LORRY driver has been given a 16-year jail term for attempting to smuggle drugs worth �2.5million through Harwich in fresh flower boxes.

Thompson Spence was found guilty of trying to import diamorphine (heroin) and cannabis into England, following an 11-day trial at Ipswich Crown Court.

The drugs weighed a total of 68 kilogrammes.

The 43-year-old was intercepted by UK Border Agency (UKBA) officers on May 29 last year at Harwich International Port.

He was driving a large articulated lorry which had arrived on the early morning ferry from Holland.

The cab unit and trailer of the vehicle were searched and in one of the pallet lockers officers found a cardboard box marked “fresh cut flowers”.

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However, a number of heat-sealed bags containing what appeared to be a herbal substance were discovered. A test produced a positive reaction to cannabis.

When the other pallet locker of the trailer was examined a second cardboard flower box was found. This contained a quantity of heat sealed plastic bags containing brown tape wrapped packages.

A further test on these packages showed a positive reaction to heroin.

In total 43kg of heroin and 25kg of herbal cannabis was recovered.

The drugs were said to have an estimated street value of �2.5m.

Judge Peter Thompson sentenced Spence, of St Johnstown, County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland to 16 years in prison for the heroin conviction. Spence also received a further three-year sentence, to run concurrently, for the cannabis conviction.

After his trial, John Kay, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC said: "The sentence handed down by the court will act as a deterrent to those involved in drug trafficking and clearly shows that crime doesn't pay.

“Anyone with information relating to smuggled goods or other illegal activities should contact our 24 hour hotline on 0800 595000."