A MAN returning from a trans-Pennine drug run was stopped by police on a dales road re-entering County Durham with almost a kilogram of cocaine hidden in the boot, a court heard.
Robbie Sykes was at the wheel of a Volkswagen Golf pulled over by officers on the A689, approaching Stanhope, in Weardale, shortly after 8pm on December 6, last year.
Durham Crown Court was told he was arrested and taken to Bishop Auckland Police Station, where a search was to be made of his car.
Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said Sykes then told the officers: “Listen, I’ve just been on a run. It’s under the spare wheel.”
A package was retrieved from that compartment of the car containing what was confirmed to be 968g of cocaine, with a high-level purity of 70-per cent.
Mr Dryden said it could have realised an estimated £129,600 in street sale values.
In interview, Sykes made no replies, but the 27-year-old defendant, of Station Yard, North Avenue, Wheatley Hill, admitted possessing the class A drug with intent to supply at a hearing in October.
The court heard his 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.
Judge James Adkin said in his view anyone travelling to Merseyside to pick up cocaine would be aware it would be a sizeable package, of probably about £1kg.
Liam O’Brien, mitigating, said Sykes was not heavily convicted and had no similar past offences on his record.
Mr O’Brien said it was something of a “tragedy” that the defendant found himself in the position he was in, due to him starting to take cocaine in 2014.
He was previously highly regarded as trotting horse trainer, winning acclaim and awards along the way.
But his successful business training horses subsided as he became blighted by cocaine abuse, running up debts and, at one stage, briefly finding himself homeless.
Due to those debts, it led to him being persuaded to go to Liverpool to pick up the cocaine consignment.
Imposing a prison sentence of four years and eight months, and also banning Sykes from driving until a year after his release from prison, the judge told him: “It was a significant role, motivated by financial advantage,” but he conceded he was acting under the direction of others, “with some duress”.