Suffolk men on trial for alleged drug smuggling

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Two Suffolk men allegedly caught with crystal methamphetamine worth £320,000 hidden in their luggage when they flew back from Africa have gone on trial accused of acting as drug couriers.

Builder Darren Cattermole, 41, of Meadowcroft, Hollow Lane, Mendham, and Christohper Thrower, 37, of Station Road, Geldeston, were caught on consecutive days when they flew into Heathrow airport from Casablanca with 5.8 kilos of concealed drugs, Isleworth Crown Court was told.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to importing drugs.

The court was told when Cattermole was stopped on June 8 and Thrower on June 9, their passports revealed they had travelled from Gambia to Burkina Faso on June 1 before buying one-way tickets home.

Border Force officer Sid Chadha said as soon as he ordered Cattermole to open his suitcase he noticed a very strong chemical smell. “As soon as you opened the bag it hit you. The bag felt unusually heavy when emptied and I felt there was a concealment of some sort in the top and bottom of the suitcase.”

“I ‘spiked’ the bag, which revealed a crystalline-like substance.”

The court was told an X-ray of Thrower’s case revealed an “unusually large concealment” and a white crystal substance was found when his case was also spiked.

Cattermole was questioned and allegedly said he was a former musician living out of a van parked somewhere in Suffolk. He said he was “shocked and devastated” and refused to answer further questions.

Thrower claimed he was a regular visitor to Gambia and he continued to receive £60-£70 a week from a bus service he had set up there. He said he went to Gambia when his driver crashed the vehicle and was offered the chance to make £500 by travelling to Burkina Faso and transporting gold to the UK. His contacts provided the suitcase but the plan was scrapped at the last minute and he was promised £250 compensation when he arrived at Heathrow.

The trial continues.