Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Monday, 11 May 2009 18:31 UK

Cricket star 'smuggled cocaine'

Former England all-rounder Chris Lewis
Chris Lewis has pleaded not guilty to trying to import cocaine

A former England cricketer smuggled cocaine worth more than £140,000 into the UK hidden in cans of fruit and vegetable juice, a court has heard.

Chris Lewis, 41, of Bruce Road, Brent, north London, was stopped as he arrived at Gatwick Airport in December 2008.

Jurors heard at the start of his trial at Croydon Crown Court he carried the drugs from St Lucia in a cricket bag.

He and co-defendant, basketball player Chad Kirnon, 27, of Carnegie Street, Islington, London, deny the charges.

The court heard the pair, who claimed to be travelling alone, were picked up independently by customs officers at the London airport, but were in fact "acting together".

Tom Wilkins, prosecuting, said Mr Lewis was stopped shortly after 0500 BST on 8 December.

Each now blames the other... The Crown say they were in it together
Tom Wilkins, Prosecutor

"When the customs officer pulled him over, Mr Lewis stated that he was travelling alone and had been in St Lucia visiting friends and family," he said.

But when Mr Lewis's luggage was inspected, the Puma cricket bag was found to be labelled with Mr Kirnon's name, Mr Wilkins told the court.

This was "the first of a number of links between these two defendants and what they were, together, up to," he added.

Jurors heard that the cocaine, which was found dissolved in the liquid contents of five tins, would at 100% purity, weigh 3.37kg (7.4lbs).

Customs officers also found traces of cannabis residue in Mr Lewis's luggage, on a silver grinder and on cigarette papers, the court was told.

All-rounder Mr Lewis, who was born in Guyana, played 32 tests and 53 one-day internationals, later coming out of retirement to play for Surrey.

'Gift for mother'

The court heard that when Mr Kirnon was stopped and questioned, a quick test performed at the airport found he was also carrying cocaine.

When questioned, he said he was bringing three tins of fruit juice back for his mother which he had bought from a shop in St Lucia.

Mr Wilkins said Mr Kirnon had denied travelling to the airport with the former cricketer, "obviously trying to put some distance between himself and Mr Lewis".

"Each now blames the other... The Crown say they were in it together," he said.

The court also heard how Mr Kirnon was stopped by customs officers on the way into St Lucia.

At the time they discovered he was carrying £7,000 which, prosecutors allege, was to be used to buy cocaine.

The trial continues.



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