A drugs mule tasked with transporting 50kgs of cocaine worth £4.5million in order to pay off a £5,000 debt was today starting a five year prison sentence.
Joshua Anderson got into debt after a tumour on his bladder left him unable to work for three months and he was offered the chance to clear the £5,000 he owed by acting as a drugs courier.
At the last minute the Kempston father-of-three changed his mind and dumped two sports bags loaded with huge amounts of cocaine in a nearby hedge.
By then however the police were already alert to him, having spotted him speaking to a dealer and they arrested him when he went back to his car.
The massive quantity of cocaine found in Anderson’s car and in the bags that he dumped had a wholesale value of £2.5million and a street value of £4.5million, Reading Crown Court was told.
Anderson, who is 32 and lives in The Glen, admitted being concerned in the supply of a Class A drug.
The court heard he turned to drug running as a means of paying off a debt after his bouncy castle hire business failed to earn enough money to clear the £5,000 that he owed.
Robert Lindsey, prosecuting, told the court that Anderson came to police officers’ attention while acting “in a nervous and suspicious manner” in an area of Bracknell, Berks, that he said was “well known for drug dealing.”
Another man - who has not been identified or arrested - approached his red Vauxhall Astra car and together they drove away.
Officers lost sight of the car but spotted the other man a short time later and were able to find Anderson parked in nearby street.
Mr Lindsey told the court: “He [the other man] was carrying a large black holdall bag and was labouring under a heavy weight.
“He was seen placing it in the boot of a silver Citroen estate. Officers approached the male. His response was to flee the scene, speeding away in the Citroen and narrowly missing one of the officers.
“They found the Citroen car in close proximity to the red Astra hired by the defendant. The Citroen was unlocked. The officers searched the boot and found a large black Slazenger sports bag containing a large number of packages the size of VHS tapes.”
The Astra was locked while Anderson tried to hide the rest of the stash in hedges nearby. He returned to the car, which was searched by officers who arrested him after finding the two sports bags containing the cocaine.
Mr Lindsey said: “Both bags contained a large number of brown taped-up packages, similar to those found in the Citroen.”
The court was told that Anderson has two convictions for seven offences, all bar one of which - for theft - are for minor motoring matters.
Giuseppina Silvio, defending, said Anderson only agreed to carry out the drug running operation as a means of sorting out his finances.
Miss Silvio said: “He’s a young man who, unfortunately, in December 2012 suffered a tumour on his bladder. He was in hospital for some time and was unable to work for three months.
“His partner, and mother of their three children, although she worked part time had to survive by use of their overdraft, up to £10,000.
“He asked someone if he would loan him £5,000. He wasn’t making sufficient funds and there was pressure put on him to repay it.
“The debts were now £15,000. In discussions with this particular person, it was suggested there would be a way he could repay that loan. He wasn’t told the entire details, but he accepts he must have suspected it was something untoward.
“A bag was placed in the back of his car. He was told to drive to an estate, and was told to wait in the car. Other persons came to the boot of the car and returned with two bags.
“He panicked and thought something wasn’t quite right. He got out of the car and decided he had to dump those two bags.
“He has placed his family in a very difficult position through trying to clear a debt - that is what he was trying to do.”
She added by way of mitigation: “Whoever was to have those drugs hasn’t had those drugs.”
Passing sentence, Judge Johanna Cutts told Anderson: “It is a sorry tale. Class A drugs cause misery to very many people. There’s misery of addiction to the individuals involved; there’s misery to society as those addicted beg and steal to feed their habit.
“You state you owed a debt to another of £5,000 and agreed to drive a package as a courier in order to clear that debt. You say you were unaware drugs were involved until just before your arrest. You knew you had items that were untoward and certainly illegal.
“You’ve clearly placed your family in a very difficult position; in every way you’ve made matters worse.”