'Tip-off foiled £22m cocaine smuggling plot'

Terri Judd
Tuesday 24 September 2002 00:00

An elaborate plan to smuggle £22m of cocaine into Britain using an ageing plane owned by a Nigerian prince was foiled by a tip-off, a court was told yesterday.

The smugglers jettisoned six suitcases containing 271kg (597lb) of the drug on to the runway of Southend airport unaware that customs officers were already waiting for them.

Christopher Barrett-Jolley, 54, his brother-in-law Peter Carine, 50, [name temporarily removed], 41, and Martin Lake, 60, deny smuggling the cocaine into Britain between 1 January and 17 October last year.

David Green QC, for the prosecution, told Basildon Crown Court that the pilots, Mr Barrett-Jolley and Mr Carine, and the flight engineer, Mr Lake, of Storrington, West Sussex, flew into the airport in an otherwise empty Boeing 707 freight plane. "As the plane taxied along the remotest part of the runway, the six suitcases were ejected from the hatch in the belly of the aeroplane on to the tarmac," said Mr Green.

But, he explained, one of the men on board, Nikolai Luzaic, had tipped off Customs and Excise who were waiting to arrest them men.

"The act of ejecting the drugs from the plane must have been done in order to enable others unknown on the ground to retrieve the drugs from the runway and spirit them away," Mr Green said. "It seems very likely that whoever was to have collected the suitcases from the end of the runway had been put off by the activity in and around the airport that evening."

While Mr Barrett-Jolley, of Wellington, Somerset, and Mr Carine, of Hensall, North Yorkshire, organised the importation, the court was told, it was Mr Adamson, a company director from Great Warford, Cheshire, who financed it. The men flew the plane – owned by Prince Abidoye and chartered by a Belgian company – from Lagos to Montego Bay in Jamaica, where the drugs are thought to have been loaded, before returning to Gran Canaria on 15 October last year.

From there Mr Barrett-Jolley, a director of CBJ International Aviation Consultants, telephoned a Southend aviation company to say he was diverting to the airport for emergency repairs. But as soon as they landed customs officials boarded and arrested the men.

Mr Green told the court that traces of a hypnosis-inducing substance on plastic gloves found on board seemed to indicate that a Nigerian representative of the plane's owners had been drugged for the final leg of the journey.

David Ogundipe, a Nigerian representative of the plane's owners, had been sleeping heavily on the way to Southend.

The trial continues today.