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54 years jail for cocaine smugglers

PUBLISHED: 18:03 13 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:41 25 August 2010

DRUGS: The deflated boat that took the drug smugglers from France to the Kent coastline

DRUGS: The deflated boat that took the drug smugglers from France to the Kent coastline

FIVE men who smuggled drugs from France on inflatable boats to the Kent coastline have been sentenced to a total of 54 years.

FIVE men who smuggled drugs from France on inflatable boats to the Kent coastline have been sentenced to a total of 54 years.

The men smuggled large amounts of pure cocaine from France to the Hythe using high speed inflatable boats between September 2007 and March last year.

Three men pleaded guilty and were sentenced along with the two men who were found guilty, at Maidstone Crown Court last Thursday.

Paul Proud, 47, of Russett Way, Lewisham, was acquitted.

Neil Hackett, 33, of Midhurst Hill, Bexleyheath, received 11 years and was given a three year travel restriction order when he is released.

His brother Jamie, 25, of Glynde Road, Bexleyheath, was jailed for nine years.

Nicolas Chappell, 47, of New Hythe Lane, Larkfield, received 18 years for conspiring to supply controlled drugs and five years for money laundering to run concurrently with the 18-year sentence.

Chappell was also given a five year travel ban after leaving prison.

Giedrius Kavaliauskas, 28, of Southfarm Road, Worthing, and David Michael Manser, 26, of Lunsford Lane, Larkfield, both received eight years.

Police caught the drug smugglers after a member of the public spotted the boat land on a Hythe beach at around 6.30am on September 5, 2007.

He saw the men on the boat being met on the beach by four men.

Several black holdalls were loaded from the boat to a waiting vehicle that was driven away at speed.

The witness immediately called police who found four men loading the boat onto a van.

The men claimed to have been fishing despite having no seawater fishing equipment, adequate clothing, provisions or safety gear.

On sentencing, Judge Griffiths Jones said: "Those involved in this enterprise sought to make huge profits from human misery."

When police searched Chappell's home they found £70,000 worth of cocaine, a large amount of cash, the inflatable boat and other sea equipment.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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