Courier was caught returning to Co Durham from Liverpool drug-run

A ‘COURIER’ caught with a large amount of cocaine hidden in his car benefited from involvement in the drug trade by an estimated £14,695, a court heard.

Sykes, of Station Yard, North Avenue, Wheatley Hill, previously admitted possessing a class A drug, with intent to supply.

He was caught conveying almost a kilogram of cocaine when stopped by police on the A689 in Weardale, on the evening of December 6, 2018.

Sykes told the officers they would find the package under the VW Golf’s spare wheel.

He was making the return run from Liverpool where he collected the consignment, in return for the wiping clear of a £7,000 debt to a dealer.

The recovered 968g of cocaine, of a high-level of purity, was said to carry a wholesale bulk value of £16,000 but could have realised an estimated £129,600 in street sales.

Sykes’ basis of plea was that he was acting as a courier due to drug debts and he was unaware how much cocaine he was to collect when he travelled to Liverpool.

Jailing him, Judge James Adkin said in his view anyone travelling to Merseyside to pick up cocaine would be aware it would be a large package of something in the region of 1kg.

The court heard Sykes was previously a successful harness racing horse trainer but his business subsided after he became blighted by cocaine abuse, running up debts and, briefly, finding himself homeless.

It was due to those debts that he was persuaded to go to Liverpool to pick up the cocaine consignment.

Following inquiries into his means, a crime proceeds hearing took place seven months into his sentence.

Judge Ray Singh found against Sykes’ contention that £2,640 in unaccounted bank deposits were from cash-in-hand payments for occasional work for a building company.

The settlement hearing, yesterday, was told that given the fact his £7,000 debt was paid off by going through with the drug-run, Sykes’ estimated benefit from his illicit activities was £14,695, but, at the moment, he has no realisable assets.

Judge Singh, therefore, made a nominal £1 confiscation order, with a default period of seven extra days on his prison sentence if it is not paid.

The Northern Echo | Durham