Jailed man cleared of conspiracy

GEORGE COLLINS spent two-and-a-half years in jail before being cleared by the Court of Appeal yesterday of involvement in a pounds 3.5m drug dealing conspiracy.

Lord Justice McCowan, sitting with Mr Justice Leonard and Mr Justice Douglas Brown, ruled that the trial judge at Birmingham Crown Court should have stopped the case against him and had misdirected the jury. Three others had been convicted of conspiracy to supply the drug between August and December 1989.

The judges were told Customs officers became aware that a large quantity of cannabis was being imported from the Netherlands. They set up a surveillance operation which resulted in the seizure of drugs and a number of arrests in December 1989. It was claimed that Mr Collins, 39, of Perry Barr, Birmingham, was the driver of a Saab car thought to be involved in the conspiracy. It was spotted outside the home of one of the conspirators, being driven by a man with dreadlocks, similar to Mr Collins, although police could not positively identify him.

Nicholas Paul, counsel for Mr Collins, said that at the trial in 1991 the burden of proof unfairly shifted to Mr Collins, and he had to show that another person had been the driver.