Two men jailed for roles in plot to smuggle drugs are denied appeals

TWO men involved in a plot to smuggle nearly £1 million worth of drugs into Jersey have been denied permission to appeal against their sentences.

A UK Border Force vessel which was also involved in the plot. It had been tailing the yacht since it left the UK and is pictured intercepting it at Bel Val Cove. (30647336)
A UK Border Force vessel which was also involved in the plot. It had been tailing the yacht since it left the UK and is pictured intercepting it at Bel Val Cove. (30647336)

The duo – Nicolas Maxwell Thurban and Paul Denis Brown – were jailed for 13½ years and 12 years respectively in September.

Their sentencing followed one of the most complex drug-crime-related investigations ever undertaken by authorities in Jersey and culminated when officers from the States police and Customs pounced on several members of the gang trying to land their haul of MDMA, cannabis and cocaine at Bel Val cove on a sailing yacht.

Others were also sent to prison for their involvement in the plot. Colin Russel Sait was also jailed for 12 years, Daniel Niall Riley for eight years and two months, John Alexander Roy for 12 years, Jon Adam Hughes for 14 years and three months and Deborah Karen Wolff for two years.

A judgment, published by the Court of Appeal, has revealed that Thurban and Brown both tried to appeal against their sentences, describing them as ‘manifestly excessive’. They each argued that their role in the conspiracy had been limited and the length or their prison terms did not reflect this.

A picture of the front page story covering the sentencing of a gang involved in a drug smuggling plot. The enterprise tried to land almost £1 million of drugs on sailing yacht at Bel Val Cove. Nicholas Maxwell Thurban (62) was jailed for 13 years and six months, Colin Russel Sait (45) for 12 years, Paul Dennis Brown (59) for 12 years, Daniel Niall Riley (27) for eight years and two months, Roy (55) for 12 years, Jon Adam Hughes (41) for 14 years and three months and Deborah Karen Wolff (54) for two years. (30647311)

Thurban, who was represented by Advocate Mike Preston, claimed that in the lead-up to attempted importation he had been spending much of his time in the West Indies, so had been distanced ‘from meaningful involvement’. He added that his job had been merely to skipper the yacht from the south coast of England to Jersey.

Meanwhile, Brown said he joined the gang at a late stage and had been told to rent a car and help someone – Hughes – who would know what to do when the drugs reached Jersey.

He added he was not an active member of the criminal enterprise and that he never agreed to be involved in the movement, receipt or handling of any class A drugs – the MDMA and cocaine.

In dealing with Thurban’s case the Court of Appeal said it would be ‘unlikely in the extreme’ that he had no knowledge of the details of the plot.

The court pointed to conversations he had with gang members, as well as a trip he took to Panama with Hughes – all of which took place prior to the smuggling attempt.

Dealing with Brown, it was found that his role could be described only as ‘significant’, adding that he had extensive conversations with the plot’s organiser before the operation. The court also dismissed arguments that he did not realise he was handling class A drugs.

‘The underlying rationale for the offence is the harm caused to the community or the victim, or both. The evil consequences flowing from the dissemination of class A drugs are indeed not mitigated at all by the fact that the courier thought he was carrying a class B drug,’ the judgment said.

Both applications for permission to appeal the sentences were then refused. James McNeill, president of the Court of Appeal, George Bompas and Sir William Bailhache were sitting.

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