Drug smuggler used veterans as a front
Faisal al Yafai
Thursday April 7, 2005
Driving back from France through the Channel tunnel, Alan Turner must have felt pretty pleased with his cargo: 75kg of pure cocaine and a coachload of elderly war veterans on top of it. He stood to make about £12.5m. But last night he began 12 years in jail for smuggling.
The Old Bailey heard that in October last year, having dropped the veterans off, Turner, 53, from Charlton, south-east London, drove to a service station in Essex, where he was met by an accomplice.
The court heard that Turner and Dennis Smith, 53, planned to distribute the cocaine in the West Country.
But police and Customs officers were aware of the plan and swooped on the pair as they transferred the drugs to Smith's car.
Smith and Turner both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine. Smith, of Stanpit, Christchurch, in Dorset, was sentenced to 12 years at an earlier hearing.
The court heard that Turner was a former soldier who had a "good military record, serving twice in Northern Ireland in very difficult times".
Judge Hubert Dunn accepted that his record was "an extremely good one. You have always worked hard and well".
But he said the seriousness of the crime merited a heavy response.