A MAN was caught trying to smuggle up to £30,000 of skunk cannabis into the country hidden in a sofa via Portsmouth International Port.
Michael Stuart Harvey, 42, was stopped at the port while driving a van towing a trailer that had just arrived on a ferry from the continent.
Daniel Sawyer, prosecuting, said: ‘One of the items in the trailer was a sofa.
‘That sofa was searched and a number of brown, taped packages were found concealed in the sofa.
‘That tested positive on a field test for cannabis.
‘The defendant was asked what it was, he said “I don’t know, I was asked to bring it back”.’
The packages were analysed and found to contain 13lbs of class B skunk cannabis with a wholesale value of up to £30,000.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard Harvey ran a company between Spain and the UK and agreed to transport the drugs after getting into financial difficulties.
The court was told he was due to be paid £1,200 for transporting the drugs but had not received it.
Father-of-three Harvey admitted one count of the fraudulent evasion of the prohibition of the importation of drugs on December 13 last year.
Harvey, of Green Lane, Eastwood, Essex, was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for two years.
He was put under supervision for six months and told to do 60 hours of unpaid work.
Harvey was also ordered to complete an activity requirement for 15 sessions.
Addressing Harvey, Judge Linda Sullivan, sentencing, said: ‘You knew that the packages were drugs. You had them concealed in a sofa before bringing them to the UK.’
A National Crime Agency spokesman said: ‘Working with our Border Force colleagues we are determined to tackle those responsible for trafficking illegal drugs into the UK and causing terrible damage to our communities.’
A confiscation hearing where Harvey could be ordered to repay some of his criminal gains is to be held on March 6 at Portsmouth Crown Court.