A LORRY driver used a consignment of frozen spinach to try and smuggle drugs with a street value of more than £2.5m into Britain.

Peter Horton’s hidden load of cocaine and heroin was discovered when customs officers searched his vehicle on his arrival in Dover from Belgium.

The father-of-three, from Dunnington, York, admitted two charges of importing Class A drugs when he appeared at Canterbury Crown Court – and has now been jailed for 14 years.

The court heard that Horton, 44, had financial problems and had admitted he had been paid £2,000 to bring in an illicit load which he believed consisted of cigarettes.

In Belgium he stopped his lorry when a Mercedes flashed its lights at him then left the vehicle unlocked – and said he did not check the load when he returned.

At Dover’s Eastern Docks he told customs officers he was taking frozen vegetables to Ashford in Kent – but when officials searched the load they found 9,620g of heroin and 11,388g of cocaine hidden in boxes of spinach.

Prosecutor Denzil Pugh said the vast quantity of drugs in the vehicle suggested that Horton had been trusted with the significant load.

The judge, Recorder Colin Reese QC, told Horton, who looked stunned at the length of the sentence: “This was a significant quantity of Class A drugs you were bringing in the country and I take a very serious view of this.

“Although this was not a sophisticated operation, I reject your claim you thought it was tobacco. You did this for financial gain and you were going to be paid for what you did.”

Afterwards a spokesman for the Border Force, said: “The sentence given to Horton should send a very clear warning to anyone tempted to get involved in drug smuggling – you will be caught and you will pay a heavy penalty.”