Two Portsmouth dockworkers found not guilty in trial over conspiracy to ship £118m of cocaine hidden in bananas into port

TWO dockworkers on trial over a conspiracy to ship nearly £120m worth of cocaine hidden in bananas into the port have been found not guilty, with a third likely to face a retrial.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Jurors at Portsmouth Crown Court were unable to reach a verdict on Michael Jordan, 44, of London Road, Portsmouth, before being discharged on Wednesday afternoon. But Michael Butcher, 66, of Victory Avenue, Waterlooville, and Clayton Harwood, 55, from St David’s Road, Southsea, have been cleared for their part in the drug smuggling operation. A fourth dockworker – David Oliver, 44, of Cornwall Road, Fratton – admitted conspiring to import class A drugs.

Mr Butcher and Mr Harwood were found not guilty of conspiring to import Class A drugs. Jordan denied the same charge.

SEE ALSO: Burglar jailed

An aerial shot of Portsmouth International Port. Archive Picture.An aerial shot of Portsmouth International Port. Archive Picture.
An aerial shot of Portsmouth International Port. Archive Picture.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The trio were on trial after more than 1.5 tonnes of cocaine – worth £118m – was discovered in April onboard cargo ship Atlantic Clipper by Dutch police in the port city of Flushing, part of the ship’s route from Turbo, in Colombia, to Portsmouth.

The trial was told how the dockworkers came under suspicion after two pallets had been emptied of drugs and rigged with police audio recording devices. Prosecuting barrister Robin Leach said: ‘Border Force and the National Crime Agency repackaged the two pallets. The two pallets were repackaged with dummy bricks and audio recording equipment, deliberately. The audio equipment proved to be useful, recording voices close to the pallets.’ The prosecution said audio devices recorded what sounded like barcodes being ripped from the pallets.

During the trial a juror was approached outside court by a woman in the public gallery who thought she ‘recognised’ the juror as ‘a friend’. But any fears of jury interference were dismissed.

Mr Butcher and Mr Harwood were cleared of any guilt following the four week trial. Jordan will appear back at court on December 13 for a directions hearing and for bail to be considered ahead of a possible retrial.

NCA senior investigating officer Adrian Barnard previously said tackling drugs being imported into the UK is ‘such a focus for the NCA and our partners in law enforcement and the private sector’.