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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 October, 2004, 18:50 GMT 19:50 UK
Britons jailed for cocaine haul
Cocaine powder
Four Britons have been jailed in for smuggling cocaine
Four Britons have each been sentenced to 20 years in jail plus hard labour in Ghana for plotting to smuggle cocaine, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

The four, together with a German and a Ghanaian, were found guilty of plotting to smuggle half a tonne of cocaine into the country, Reuters said.

In January, police in Ghana seized 674kg of cocaine worth $145m (79m) found hidden behind a mirror.

The men's defence lawyer said they would appeal at the "harsh" sentences.

Police had found the cocaine behind a mirror at the home of Kevin Gorman, 59, in the port city of Tema, near the capital city of Accra, following a two-year investigation.

Hard labour

As well as Gorman, from Trimdon Grange, near Durham, who has dual UK and US nationality, fellow Britons David Logan, 54, from Warrington, Frank Laverick, 44, from Cleethorpes, and 46-year-old Alan Hodgson from Easington, Co Durham. were sentenced.

Also jailed were German Sven Herb and Ghanaian Ibrahim Kamel.

All were found guilty of conspiracy and possession with their jail sentences to run concurrently with hard labour.

The BBC's correspondent in the capital Accra, Kwaku Sakyi-Ado, who was at the trial, said the men were calm after the sentences were announced and their lawyers said they planned to appeal.

Mitigation

He said: "Their lawyers said at the very least the judge ought to have allowed them to make a plea for mitigation."

He added the judge described Gorman, who was general manager in fishing company Tuna-To-Go, "as the centre of the wheel around which everything evolved" and said the six were "leaders or grandmasters in the distribution of narcotic drugs in Ghana and elsewhere".

The men will serve their sentences in Ghana because the offence was committed there.

European anti-drug officials say Africa is being used more and more as a route to smuggle drugs into Europe.

The prosecution said it believed the cocaine seized had come from Venezuela.

January's haul was the biggest ever seizure in West Africa.

Customs and Excise led the intelligence operation which resulted in the raid and a spokesman said there was evidence the cocaine was destined for the UK.


SEE ALSO:
Row over Ghana cocaine suspects
05 Feb 04  |  Africa
Country profile: Ghana
15 Sep 04  |  Country profiles



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