Attempted murder, fraud and a police shoot-out - the incredible life of a Jersey drug smuggler

A DRUGS mule who was once jailed for shooting someone at a nightclub in Marbella is today behind bars in Jersey after being sentenced for trying to smuggle £400,000 worth of cannabis into the Island.

rag out mark henderson drugs ipswich star 2008... (19355989)
rag out mark henderson drugs ipswich star 2008... (19355989)

Classic-car dealer Mark Henderson was caught by Customs officers with the huge haul hidden inside his Mercedes SUV at the Harbour.

The 49-year-old got involved in the deal because he owed £20,000 to ‘serious gangsters’.

Long-term criminal Henderson pleaded guilty to three counts of importing drugs into the Island. He was jailed for five years and a confiscation order for £2,573 was made.

BACKGROUND

ATTEMPTED murder, fraud, police shoot-outs, a ten-year manhunt, classic cars and a drugs bust in Jersey – the criminal life of Mark Henderson could be the stuff of fiction.

It is tale that starts in East Anglia in the 1990s, moves to the sun-kissed shores of Marbella and then ends behind bars at HMP La Moye in Jersey.

Henderson, now 49, made tens of thousands of pounds in the mid-1990s ripping off a string of small businesses in Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. He was first arrested when police uncovered a £980,000 fraud operation, of which Henderson was a major player.

During a 22-month period between June 1993 and April 1995, four phoney companies were created with the intention of obtaining goods on credit and then not paying for them.

Following his arrest his then wife and mother-in-law came together to fork out the £20,000 surety needed for his bail. Once released, he fled to Marbella in southern Spain.

Detectives for Suffolk Constabulary wanted him back. They monitored calls between Henderson and his wife and discovered the two were due to meet in 2000. Suffolk officers travelled to Spain and informed their Spanish colleagues.

Detective Constable Keith Johnson, from Suffolk police’s fraud squad, was one of those who was leading the operation. He told the Ipswich Star in 2008: ‘We went over the day before she was going. The Spanish police were waiting for him and shots were fired, but he managed to get away and we didn’t know where he was.’

Henderson continued to evade the grasp of the British justice system until a drunken evening at a nightclub in Marbella years later.

He got into an argument with a doorman. He left but returned soon after armed with a gun. He attempted to shoot the doorman, but missed, striking and injuring someone else. He was convicted of attempted murder and jailed for eight years.

His arrest gave police in the UK and the Crown Prosecution Service the break they needed to bring Henderson back to British soil to face justice.

In 2008 he was extradited from a high-security prison in Madrid to Britain, where he served the remainder of his sentence for attempted murder as well as three years for fraud.

Three years later he was released. Advocate Julian Gollop told the Royal Court on Monday that in an attempt to go straight he got involved in the classic car game and was, for a time, successful.

Successful until the ex-businessman got his eyes on a classic 1950s Mercedes he thought could be worth up to £100,000. He got a loan from an ‘associate’ to buy it but eventually had to sell the car for a loss and was told by his ‘associate’ that he actually owed money to ‘gangsters’.

To settle the debt, his advocate said, Henderson was told to bring class A drugs to Jersey. He declined but agreed to bring cannabis – a class B drug – into Jersey instead.

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