Olympic star guilty of being in £50m cocaine gang

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The Independent Online

An Olympic judo star was convicted today of being part of a £50 million drug gang.

James Waithe, 47, who represented Barbados at the Olympics and England in the Commonwealth Games, was part of a gang who turned over around £1 million a week from cocaine sales.

Waithe owned a Bristol flat where police found a "cocaine factory", complete with drugs and guns.

Police were called to a report of a burglary at Waithe's flat in Highridge Green and stumbled on a 10-tonne hydraulic press, white powder and cutting agents.

Police also found an "arsenal" of weapons, including rifles, handguns, stun grenades and ammunition.

Waithe previously told Bristol Crown Court that he owned the flat but did not live there and had nothing to do with the illegal enterprise.

But he was convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine.

He was found not guilty of conspiracy to possess an explosive substance.

The jury is still to reach a verdict on six counts of possession of a firearm.

Waithe competed for Barbados in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and taught PE and citizenship at Withywood Community School and Bristol Gateway Special School.

His co-defendant Robert Brooks, 63, of no fixed address, was found not guilty of six charges of possession of firearms but guilty of conspiracy to possess explosives, namely stun grenades.

He admitted conspiracy to supply drugs.

Grant Richmond, of Long Cross, Lawrence Weston, and Craig Rodel, 46, of Wexford Road, Bristol, and Luke Downes, 22, of Pevensey Walk, Bristol, have all pleaded guilty to being involved in the conspiracy to supply drugs.

Jury deliberations in the case against Waithe will continue tomorrow.