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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 November 2006, 15:09 GMT
Sailor held in Italy flies home
Henry Stableford
Henry Stableford, 31, was arrested in Italy last month
An Isle of Wight man held in Italy for more than a month under a Moroccan arrest warrant has spoken of his relief at arriving back in the UK.

Henry Stableford, 31, from Cowes, was detained on 12 October at Fano, Italy, for alleged 270m cocaine smuggling.

But at a hearing on Wednesday the judge released him after Moroccan authorities failed to serve extradition documents.

After landing at Stansted Airport on Thursday, Mr Stableford said it felt "outstanding to be back in Blighty".

"I would like to bury this, that's the next thing on my mind," he said referring to the arrest warrant.

This international warrant needs to be voided immediately
Jason McCue, solicitor

"It's great having my freedom back again."

The warrant dates back to 1997 when Mr Stableford was part of a four-man British crew who delivered a former Royal Navy cutter from Southampton to Morocco.

Four Colombians later used the same boat for a deal involving six tonnes of cocaine.

The boat's four-man crew were interviewed by police at the time and no further action was taken.

But one of Mr Stableford's crewmates, John Packwood, 43, from Cowes, was arrested in Spain on the same warrant while on holiday in 2004.

He spent 13 months in jail in Spain and Morocco awaiting a trial that never took place before being released in November last year on a pardon from King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

On hearing of his release on Wednesday, Mr Stableford's solicitor, Jason McCue, said: "This international warrant needs to be voided immediately so that Henry, an innocent man, can get on with his life and feel free to travel."

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