'Day trip' drug cash courier jailed for eight years

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The Independent Online

A former schoolteacher thought to have made regular transatlantic day trips to London to help a Yardie drug gang launder millions of pounds was jailed for eight years yesterday.

A former schoolteacher thought to have made regular transatlantic day trips to London to help a Yardie drug gang launder millions of pounds was jailed for eight years yesterday.

Mernel Lindner, who is 43 today, was caught at Heathrow as she and the teddy bearcarrying teenage daughter she used as cover, went to board a flight home to Jamaica with £680,000 stuffed into a string of suitcases.

When her passport was examined, it was found she had made six similar visits during the previous few months, Inner London Crown Court was told.

Forensic examination of the bundles of £5, £10 and £20 notes found among the only other items in her luggage - a number of Marks & Spencer bath towels - revealed widespread traces of heroin and ecstasy. Thousands of pounds retrieved from the pair's hand luggage showed similar contamination.

Passing sentence, Judge van der Werff told the tearful mother of four from Kingston, Jamaica, that the money she had was clearly "part of the very considerable profits of the drugs trade".

He went on: "It was a sophisticated operation ... the money, packed in five or more large bundles, was wrapped in carbon paper and cling film, the former, it seems, in expectation that it would be proof against X-ray machines. You were a courier and you were a well-chosen courier. You are a highly educated, respectable, middle-aged woman of hitherto good character, well dressed, personable and accompanied by your 19-year-old daughter, holding her teddy bear. You are the sort of person least likely to be suspected of being a courier for this type of operation.

"And the fact that you used your daughter as part of this cover is an aggravating feature in your culpability."

Lindner was convicted at an earlier trial of laundering the proceeds of drugs trafficking. Her daughter, Danish Shaw, who said she had no idea what was going on, was cleared.

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