Cocaine smuggler jailed for five years

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Joe Thomas Watts brought the cocaine, which had a street value of up to £2,800, in two packages which he smuggled internally, the Royal Court heard on Monday.

When he was stopped by Customs officers as he disembarked from the Commodore Clipper on 16 October last year the unemployed 28-year-old from the West Midlands said he was visiting the Island for two weeks to search for work.

However, Crown Advocate Conrad Yates told the Superior Number of the court – which convenes for only the most serious of cases – that swabs of Watts’s cigarette lighter proved positive for cocaine, and when questioned further he admitted he had previously been given a five-year sentence for conspiracy to supply the class A drug.

He was arrested and later during a welfare check a ‘teary’ Watts told an officer that he had two internal packages which he believed to contain cocaine.

During interview Watts said he had been told to bring the drugs to Jersey to give to an unknown person who had been due to meet him outside the ferry terminal. However, he said he could not give any further details, as he was worried about what would happen to his family.

Watts said that he had assumed a £1,500 debt which he had amassed from his cocaine habit would be written off by acting as a courier and added: ‘I know it was wrong. It is my own fault. I could have said no but if I did say no I was worried about the consequences.’

The court heard that Watts, who pleaded guilty to importing a controlled drug, intends to serve his sentence at La Moye.

Advocate Michael Haines, defending, said his client had given early guilty pleas and had also been co-operative with the police and the Probation Service.

‘He is sorry for the harm that could have been caused if the drugs had found their way onto the streets of Jersey,’ Advocate Haines added.

Addressing Watts, the Bailiff, Sir William Bailhache, said: ‘We note with sadness that you took up cocaine whilst in custody in the UK. The court expresses the hope that by serving the sentence over here you will beat the habit because by the time you are released you will still have the whole of your life ahead of you.’

Jurats Anthony Olsen, Charles Blampied, Rozanne Thomas, Pamela Pitman, Robert Christensen and Elizabeth Dulake were sitting.

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