Prosecutors say the drugs found inside Francis Mkatapa (31) were of 92% purity and were capable of being cut to substantially increase sales or, if left unadulterated, posed a serious risk to users’ health.
Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith, presiding, said Islanders only had to look at the recent death of 19-year-old James Le Bourgeois to see the harm class-A drugs could have on the community. The former Highlands student died from a suspected reaction to MDMA earlier this month.
Mkatapa, from Liverpool, claims he was forced into the doomed importation by violent drug gangs in Merseyside who were threatening him and his family. The Royal Court’s Superior Number, which convenes only for the most serious offences, heard that the defendant had been due to travel to the Island twice before he boarded an easyJet flight on 3 October last year.
It was heard that on one occasion, the defendant had refused to go and on a second occasion, he missed his flight which caused the alleged threats from gang members to escalate.
Mr Clyde-Smith said the defendant acted as a courier – a vital player in the drug supply chain in Jersey.
‘The drugs were of extreme purity and likely to be cut or, if not, could do great harm to those who consume them.’
Outlining the case, Advocate Emma Hollywood, prosecuting, said Mkatapa was stopped by Customs officers as he walked through the arrivals hall at the Airport. When asked why he was in the Island, the defendant said he was ‘a record producer’ and that he was in Jersey ‘for one night to meet an industry contact named Shivs’. He could provide no more details.
An ION scan on his phone recorded high levels of cocaine and, when strip-searched, it was heard that Mkatapa was reluctant to let Customs officers check around his buttocks.
Officers ordered him to use a specialist toilet so that they could see if he was hiding drugs internally. After he said he had finished, he was told to remove his clothes and put on a paper suit but, as he was changing, officers spotted ‘three oblong packages’ near a wash basin. Advocate Hollywood said: ‘It became clear that the packages had been carried by the defendant internally.’
The three packages contained a total of 133.92g of 92% pure cocaine. Batches above 75% are treated exceptionally seriously by the courts.
Advocate Giles Emmanuel, defending, said his client was remorseful and had a good work ethic prior to being arrested. It was heard he had run businesses and taken part in community work in Toxteth, which included working with children to allow them to showcase their musical talents.
He is due to start studying for a business and economics degree in prison.
Mkatapa has one previous conviction in 2015 for possession with intent to supply. He was deemed to be at high risk of similar re-offending.
Jurats Rozanne Thomas, Pamela Pitman, Robert Christensen, Steven Austin-Vautier and Gareth Hughes were sitting.