BERMUDA-COURT-Bermuda nationals jailed in UK over drugs plot

HULL, Jul 10, CMC — Two Bermudian nationals living in Britain have been jailed in this northern port city after police discovered a plot to smuggle more than US$30,000 worth of cocaine into England.

Drugs mule Sharnell Simmons arrived in Hull on a ferry from the Netherlands in August last year, with two packages of cocaine glued to the insoles of her shoes, Hull Crown Court heard.

But Simmons, who worked as a cleaner at the ferry terminal, panicked while waiting in the arrivals lounge and tried to hide the drugs on a table, while her accomplice, Kyle Lightbourne, who travelled with her, tried to distract staff by talking to them.

Lightbourne, 36, was jailed for six years, while Simmons, 41, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment after both pleaded guilty.

The court heard that although both had family contacts in their native Bermuda, they met in England and Lightbourne had “pressured” Simmons, a former pub singer, into carrying the drugs with the promise of helping her nephew, who had become “embroiled in gang culture in Bermuda”.

Lightbourne had moved to Britain three years earlier to look after his teenage son, a member of English Premier League club Stoke City’s football academy, because the boy’s mother had moved back to Bermuda after her brother’s murder.

Prosecutor Richard Thompson said: “They arrived in the port of Hull from Rotterdam by ferry. Having proceeded to passport control, they were asked to wait while other passengers disembarked so that passport and nationality tests could be completed and their luggage searched.

“In the arrivals area, it was apparent, the Crown say, from that point they were likely to be searched, so Ms Simmons set about seeking to dispose of the drugs concealed by the insoles of the shoes she was wearing.

“Initially, she went to use the toilet, but she was followed by an alert member of Border Agency staff. Once back in the waiting area, CCTV footage shows her removing her shoes, leaning over a headrest to a table behind her, and clearly disposing of something on that table underneath tourist information leaflets.”

Lightbourne also tried to cover the drugs with leaflets and then spoke to Border Agency staff as a distraction.

Thompson said: “Checks were carried out in relation to their identity, and they were about to be allowed to proceed when a member of staff cleaning the arrivals hall discovered two packages concealed under a pile of leaflets, so the two defendants were arrested.”

The two packages had a combined weight of 307 grams, were of more than 50 per cent purity, and had an estimated street value of approximately US$31,500.

Simmons had no previous convictions.

Lightbourne – not to be confused with the 48-year-old Bermudian footballer of the same name who played professionally in England — had none in Britain, but had two convictions for possessing cannabis in Bermuda, and one for possessing cocaine with intent to supply.