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Deadly 'rum' smuggled into Gatwick was liquid cocaine

8 April 10 16:46 GMT

A man died after unwittingly drinking liquid cocaine concealed in a rum bottle, a court has heard.

Lascell Malcolm, 63, a father of two, accepted the bottle as a gift from a friend who did not realise she had been used as a drugs mule, jurors were told.

Martin Newman, 50, is alleged to have given the bottle to Antoinette Corlis who flew into Gatwick in May 2009.

Mr Newman, of Romford, Essex, denies manslaughter and importation of drugs at Croydon Crown Court.

Cocaine poisoning

On Wednesday the court was told Ms Corlis and her friend, Michael Lawrence, met Mr Newman as they checked in for a flight from St Lucia to Gatwick.

The pair agreed to carry two bottles of Bounty rum after Mr Newman claimed he had exceeded his baggage allowance.

But on arrival at Gatwick, Mr Newman was held up by customs officials, and Mr Lawrence, who was due to catch a connecting flight to Switzerland, gave one of the bottles to Ms Corlis, who was collected by Mr Malcolm.

When Mr Malcolm, a taxi driver, refused to accept payment for the journey, Ms Corlis gave him the bottle instead.

The following day, Mr Malcolm died of a heart attack caused by cocaine poisoning.

The reason for Mr Malcolm's death did not come to light until grieving relatives decided to drink a toast after discovering the bottle at his home.

Deadly toxicity

Oliver Glasgow, prosecuting, said Mr Malcolm's nephew, Charles Roach, and friend, Trevor Tugman, spat out the liquid but collapsed a short time later and were rushed into intensive care at Middlesex Hospital in London.

Mr Glasgow said: "It did not take long for people to identify the defendant's bottle of Bounty rum as the source of the cocaine poisoning that all three victims had sustained.

"Subsequent analysis of the contents of the bottle established that 246g [8.7oz] of cocaine had been dissolved into the rum, which resulted in a mixture of such toxicity that a teaspoonful could kill anyone who consumed it."

Jurors were told that police contacted Mr Lawrence in Switzerland, urging him to hand in the bottle of cocaine.

Mr Glasgow said two more passengers from St Lucia had also brought bottles into the UK but charges against them were dropped.

No evidence was heard on Thursday because of legal argument.

The case continues.

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