Jailed: Drug smuggler tried to hide £5 million of cocaine and heroin in horsebox

A man who tried to smuggle £5 million worth of cocaine and heroin into the UK under the false floor of a horse transporter has been jailed for more than six years.

Carl Andrew Pritchard, and the horse transporter the drugs were found in. Photos: National Crime Agency
Carl Andrew Pritchard, and the horse transporter the drugs were found in. Photos: National Crime Agency

Carl Andrew Pritchard was caught at the English Channel crossing in Dover with 90kg of class A drugs hidden underneath two horses he claimed he was returning from a show on the continent.

When customs officials searched his vehicle and found the drugs, he told a "cock and bull story" to try to protect the identities of those who had paid him to try and smuggle the drugs, before coming clean in court.

Pritchard, aged 36, pleaded guilty to two counts of being concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a prohibition on the importation of a class A drug before being brought before Judge Rupert Lowe to be sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday.

The horse transporter the drugs were found in. Photo: National Crime Agency

Pritchard, of Dyke Street in Wrexham, took two horses abroad on September 13 last year, supposedly heading to a show in mainland Europe.

He returned five days later with the horses, and the vehicle was inspected by customs officials.

Judge Lowe said: "You are a 36-year-old man... you took a very bad decision last year to get involved in drug smuggling in order to increase your income.

"You were stopped on Sunday, September 18, at the Channel border transporting two horses back into the UK which you had taken out five days earlier on Tuesday, September 13 - supposedly for a show, although it seems to me the real purpose of the trip was the importation of drugs and the horses just the excuse.

"The customs officers did have a look at your vehicle, which was a horse transporter, and found secreted in the false floor 90kg of drugs."

The wraps of drugs. Photo: National Crime Agency

The stash was made up of 65kg of heroin and 25kg of cocaine. The judge said the street value of the drugs amounted to £5 million.

Judge Lowe continued: "For moving those drugs you were no doubt being handsomely rewarded.

"I have got little doubt in this case that you were really just the driver. I do not believe that you were any part of the organisation of this enterprise.

"You were the sort of person that the drug smugglers were prepared to pay a few thousand pounds in order to avoid being caught themselves."

Pritchard was arrested and brought to magistrates court but made allegations about other men called Bob and Paul, the judge said, allegations he dismissed as a "cock-and-bull story" made up to protect the drug dealers out of fear of reprisals.

He did later plead guilty at a plea and trial preparation hearing.

Representing Pritchard on Friday, Nicolas Robinson said that the defendant had family members who relied on him and that he had no previous convictions for "anything remotely serious".

The judge said: "You have expressed what I take to be genuine remorse, I have read quite a large number of character references.

"Unfortunately this is a very large amount of drugs, you made a very stupid decision to get involved in drug smuggling in order to enrich yourself.

"The sentences for this sort of offence are very high and I have to act within the guidelines.

"There will be plenty of your life left [after prison] and I hope this is the lowest point of it.

"But 90 kilograms of drugs does untold damage to people across this country - and this is what you brought in."

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