Members of drugs smuggling gang locked up after cannabis haul found at docks (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Members of drugs smuggling gang locked up after cannabis haul found at docks
THREE men have been jailed for their parts in a plot to smuggle huge amounts of drugs into the country on a ship from India.
Kelvin Murray - the leader of what prosecutors called a "significant enterprise" - was locked up for eight years.
The unemployed 32-year-old, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire, was told by a judge: "Without you, nothing would happen."
Murray's lieutenant, Gary Dodsworth, 26, from Eaglescliffe, near Stockton, was locked up for four-and-a-half years.
The gang's "foot soldier", Sean Lawrensen, 46, from Bedale, North Yorkshire, was given four years and three months.
A fourth suspect - Graham Walker, 34, from Darlington - was cleared of any involvement during a ten-day trial in July.
Teesside Crown Court heard how the £800,000 plot was busted when 207 packages of cannabis were found by customs workers.
The 147kg stash was hidden in crates of computer equipment on a ship from Mumbai which docked at Tilbury in Essex in July 2011.
Prosecutor Paul Newcombe described it as "a significant enterprise" and said "a dry run" had been carried out days earlier.
Murray had links with India and a buyer in Surrey, and arranged for Dodsworth to pass on detailed instructions to Lawrensen.
Barristers for the three men argued that others - not caught - were the true organisers and set up the ambitions plan.
James Littlehales, for Murray, said his lifestyle - living at home with his mother - did not reflect that of a drugs baron.
Nigel Edwards said out-of-work electrical engineer Dodsworth was the "filling in the sandwich" between the other two.
"They were cogs within cogs within wheels of what might be regarded as a much larger machine," he told Judge Peter Bowers.
"They were acting under instructions. Those much further up the line, as far as we know, remain untouched, and probably untouchable."
Kieran Rainey, for struggling landscape gardener Lawrensen, said he simply wanted to earn enough money to buy a van.
"He is not the most sophisticated operator, not the brightest and not capable of being a leading organise of anything," he said.
"This is a simple man, living in a small, sleepy village, leading a simple lifestyle and had an offer that was too good to be true."
Lawrensen, of School Lane, Newton-le-Willows, was found guilty of conspiracy to import Class B drugs after the trial.
Dodsworth, of Carnoustie Drive, Eaglescliffe, and Murray, of Meadow Lane, Northallerton, earlier admitted the same charge.
Judge Bowers told them: "You were the importation cell and as a result the absolutely vital link between India and this country.
"You may have been naive and you may have been duped, but the quantities involved here are quite enormous and you must have been aware of this."
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