Failed drugs mule jailed for 6½ years
SENTENCES for drug offences are higher in Jersey than the UK to keep the ‘evil’ of the trade out of the Island, a smuggler was told as he was jailed for importing class A and B drugs.
Daryl Richard France, from Birmingham, told Customs officers he was forced to smuggle thousands of pounds of cocaine and cannabis into Jersey to clear a debt to a UK gang who were threatening him and his family.
Drugs worth up to £94,000 were found hidden in the spare wheel of a blue Ford Mondeo owned by the 28-year-old as he drove off the Commodore Clipper at 8.55pm on 25 January. He told officers that he was a self-employed tattoo artist who had come to the Island to sell equipment to local studios and had booked to stay one night at the Apollo Hotel.
The defendant admitted three counts of being concerned in the importation of cocaine, herbal cannabis and cannabis resin. He was yesterday jailed for 6½ years by the Royal Court’s Superior Number, which convenes only for the most serious cases.
Delivering the court’s sentence, the Bailiff, Sir William Bailhache, said the defendant had been involved in attempting to import a ‘significant quantity’ of drugs weighing a total of 3.7 kg.
‘Drugs are an evil we try to keep out of this Island. We recognise sentences are higher here than in the UK and that is because we try to keep drugs out,’ Sir William said.
Outlining the case, Crown Advocate Richard Pedley said the defendant broke down and was ‘crying heavily’ during his third interview with Customs officers after he was arrested. He had initially said no comment to all questions.
‘He says that he had been forced to undertake the importation following threats to his wellbeing and that of his family,’ said Advocate Pedley.
‘The defendant went on to state that he had been a drug user in the past, had developed an addiction to cocaine about two years previously, but had been clean for around 18 months. He said that he had been in debt to his former dealer since that time and although he had made repayments there was still about £400 outstanding. The defendant intimated that the dealer had tired of waiting for the balance owed, stating that he had been subject to two days of physical abuse and threats prior to agreeing to become involved.
‘He stated that he was now in fear of all these people, who he described as “some nasty f******”.’
Advocate Pedley added that France had told his dealer he could not take part in the smuggling attempt because his car was broken. The dealer then, the court heard, paid for the repairs (£250) as well as France’s ferry and hotel accommodation (£400) and also cleared the £400 debt.
In interview, France told officers he knew there was some drugs inside but he thought they were just cannabis samples. ‘Nothing major... just some samples to make sure they were happy with the product,’ he told Customs officers.
Advocate Michael Haines, defending, said his client had entered an early guilty plea, was of good character and had no relevant previous convictions. He also told the court that since 2017 his client’s mental health had ‘deteriorated’.
The defendant’s parents had travelled from the UK to support their son. Jurats Anthony Olsen, Pamela Pitman, Robert Christensen, David Hughes and Geoffrey Grime were sitting.