Ernest Wiredu, 35, who could have died if any of the 91 packages of cocaine had burst, stood to make just pounds 1,400 by breaking the law. But suspicious Customs officials stopped the nervous-looking courier the moment he arrived from the Netherlands on a cross-Channel train at London's Waterloo station two months ago.
Southwark Crown Court in London heard that a total of 714 grammes of high purity cocaine was later recovered from him. The court was told hard- up Wiredu, who had never been in trouble before, became desperate after learning that his mother was unwell and needed money. He poured out his problems to his girlfriend who saw an opportunity to make some cash for herself as well.
The woman, who has never been caught, introduced him to a drug dealer and then persuaded him that this was the best way out of his dilemma.
But Judge Paul Focke QC, told Wiredu, who admitted one count of smuggling, that despite his personal problems and the help he had given to police in an attempt to track down the others involved, there was no alternative to a long sentence of imprisonment.
"You knew full well what you were doing," the judge said.