Gang members who tried to smuggle £500k of heroin through Killingholme are jailed
MEMBERS of a gang that tried to smuggle more than £500,000 of pure heroin into the UK via Killingholme have been jailed for almost 50 years between them.
David Mather, 56, of Salford, Stephen Tudge, 52, of Bolton and William Pearson, 52, of Manchester, were convicted yesterday following a two-week trial at Sheffield Crown Court. They were sentenced to 18 years, 16 years and 14 years respectively at the same court. Mather was tried and sentenced in his absence after he failed to attend court.
The court heard a lorry trailer parked in Killingholme on May 7 2010, had arrived on a ferry from Zeebrugge at 7.30pm the previous day. The gang’s plan was for Mather to instruct a driver to pick up the trailer from the port and deliver the load to Warrington.
But the plan was scuppered when Border Force officers found the drugs concealed in 32 parcels which had been hidden in a specially adapted space within the rear crash bar.
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The haul contained a total of 5.5 kilos of heroin at 100 per cent purity. The drugs would have had street value of about £582,750.
The driver appointed by Mather was arrested when he arrived to collect the trailer but was later released after it emerged he was not aware of the conspiracy.
Following a complex investigation, Mather and Tudge were arrested at their home addresses on May 22, 2011. Pearson was arrested in December 2011.
All the men denied any knowledge of the drugs or how they had ended up in the lorry but gave conflicting reports of the events leading up to the seizure when questioned.
Malcolm Bragg, from Border Force, said: “Drug smuggling is a despicable crime. Mather, Tudge and Pearson’s criminal enterprise failed and our officers prevented a significant amount of heroin from reaching UK streets.
“This was a long and complex investigation into what was a sophisticated smuggling attempt.
“The sentences given to this gang should serve as a warning for others involved in this disgusting trade. We will catch you and you will spend many years in jail.”