Jailed: Eight years for �250k drug courier

A DRUG courier caught in Huntingdonshire with cocaine and cash worth �250,000 was trying to pay off his debts, a court heard.

A DRUG courier caught in Huntingdonshire with cocaine and cash worth �250,000 was trying to pay off his debts, a court heard.

Stephen Berry, 38, had debts of more than �5,000 when he was asked to pick up a package from Leeds on March 10, in return for payment of �2,000.

Berry was stopped for speeding on the A1 near Alconbury and when officers searched his car, they discovered a sports bag containing nearly 2kg of cocaine and �48,000 in cash.

At Huntingdon Crown Court on Friday, Berry, from Kent, was sentenced to eight years in prison for the offences.

He admitted possession with intent to supply, acquisition, use and possession of criminal property. He also admitted charges of driving without insurance, driving without a licence and obstructing a police officer.

Prosecutor Charles Snelling told the court that Berry had been travelling on the A1 at 1.20pm when police officers stopped him for speeding.

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Berry gave a false name, which officers identified as a disqualified driver on their database. After Berry gave a second false name, police searched the car to find identification and found the holdall in the front seat.

It contained two packages containing 1.95kg of cocaine, of which 1.46kg was at 100 per cent purity, estimated to have a street value of more than �200,000.

John Kirkpatrick, mitigating, said that Berry had been unemployed and debts were causing him “a large amount of stress and anxiety”.

When Berry was offered the job, he accepted because of his personal circumstances.

Mr Kirkpatrick said: “He hadn’t known before he got there what the packages would contain although he had known it would be drugs.”

When Berry realised the package was cocaine, “he wanted to get rid of the stuff he had got in the car as soon as possible”, said Mr Kirkpatrick.

Berry co-operated fully with police and made full admissions, he added.

Judge Hurst sentenced Berry to seven years in prison for possession with intent to supply, and one year for the possession of criminal property, to be served consecutively. Berry was given six penalty points for the driving charges.

He said Berry’s “vulnerability” had been exploited, but that the courier had gone into the operation “with a certain degree of eyes being open”.

Mr Hurst said: “A deterrent sentence is required otherwise drug dealers can prey on people who are vulnerable like you.

“To be paid �2,000 is by anybody’s reckoning an enormous amount of money for doing one trip. I take the view that you must have been close to someone high up the chain.”