A LORRY driver who smuggled £350,000 worth of cannabis has been jailed for three years.
Andrew Lund was caught at Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port with 107kg of the drug when he was stopped in his lorry by customs officers.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard experienced driver Lund, 43, had been dropping off goods and picking up broccoli and lettuces in Spain and Gibraltar.
But when Border Force officers X-rayed and then searched his cab they found 109 blocks of cannabis sealed in air-tight plastic packages.
Prosecutor Audrey Archer told jurors at Lund’s trial the drugs had a wholesale value of £107,600 and a street value more than £300,000. Ms Archer said Lund confessed to two bosses at Brook Hadley Contractors he was in financial trouble and was due to be paid £10,000 for the illicit cargo.
She said: ‘They spoke to the defendant after his arrest, clearly wanting to know what on earth had gone on. The defendant had confessed to both of them that at the time he was in a financially desperate position, that he had been offered £10,000 by somebody to bring in cannabis.’
The defendant had confessed to both [of his bosses] that at the time he was in a financially desperate position, that he had been offered £10,000 by somebody to bring in cannabisAudrey Archer
Ms Archer said Lund had not been paying tax or VAT on his earnings as a lorry driver and was in debt by about £15,000.
She said Lund told an officer who searched his cab that he had been caught ‘red-handed’ when he saw the officer a month later.
Under cross-examination Lund said: ‘I’ve always been innocent.’
Asked what his reaction was when officers found the drugs, he said: ‘My whole world just went into meltdown.’
But jurors yesterday found him guilty of one charge of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a prohibition on cannabis, a class B drug.
Jurors earlier heard the drugs were found in holdalls concealed on the top bunk in his cab and in a storage unit in the floor.
Recorder Michael Norman jailed Lund, of Sea Lane, Rustington, Littlehampton, for three years for the offence on April 14.
Lund denied any knowledge of the cannabis and denied saying he had been caught red-handed.
Toby Whale, from the National Crime Agency’s Solent border investigation team, said: ‘This was a significant seizure of cannabis and if sold on the streets of the UK we estimate it could have been worth £350,000.
‘Working with our Border Force colleagues we will continue to target drugs couriers who attempt to use the Solent ports to bring illegal substances into the UK. We are determined to do all we can to disrupt the organised crime groups involved.’