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Private jailed for cocaine in luggage

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A BRITISH soldier caught with cocaine worth €20,000 in his luggage has been jailed for seven years.

Pte Stephen Agubosim had 650gm of the Class A drug in his possession when he was stopped by customs officers at the Dutch-German border.

The soldier was travelling on a train from Amsterdam when his holdall was searched by German officials, a military court in Sennelager heard.

Pte Agubosim, RLC attached to 42 Engineer Regiment and based at JHQ, had planned to travel to Norway by coach via Sweden and fly back to Germany.

The indirect route and method of travel to Norway was to lessen the chance of the drugs being detected, said prosecutor Lt Col Atholl Finlayson.

Pte Agubosim, 30, denied possessing a controlled drug with intent to supply, claiming a friend in The Netherlands had put the cocaine in his bag without his knowledge.

But he was found guilty of the offence on May 31.

The cocaine – packed in 67 packets weighing a total 658gm – was partly of 68 per cent purity and had a street value of €20-26,000, the court heard.

Several pairs of gloves were also found in the holdall along with blue plastic bags that matched ones found in the defendant’s single living accommodation, where detectives discovered a leaflet with drug trading calculations scribbled on it. 

When interviewed by the military police soon after the drugs were found in October last year, the private appeared subdued. 

“An innocent man in this situation is going to be horrified at having €20,000 worth of drugs planted on him,” said  Lt Col Finlayson. “It is not true and is made up.”

Pte Agubosim told the court he enjoyed travelling around Europe, but he denied supplying drugs to a contact in Norway, a place he had recently been to before.

But the Colonel said to him: “This was a planned trip by you, taking drugs to Norway by coach to avoid being intercepted by customs and taking a flight back.”

A native of Nigeria with four and a half years’ service in the British Army, Pte Agubosim had been sending money regularly to individuals in his home country, the court was told.

The prosecutor suggested that the cash had been “acquired through drugs” as it did not reflect the private’s modest monthly earnings.

However,  at the sentencing hearing on June 29, Jonathan Lynch, defending, said there was nothing to indicate that the married father of one had been involved in anything but a one-off incident.

“He has cooperated... attended every appointment despite having two passports, British and Nigerian,” he said. “He has had the courage to come to court knowing that the weight of the evidence was against him.”

Asking the board to consider military detention as punishment for Pte Agubosim, Mr Lynch added: “He’s not a remarkable person; he’s never done anything amazing, but he is in the British Army and does have values.

“He’s a gentleman... he’s Nigerian, he’s not from Britain, he does not know the institution of prison. He will be a vulnerable person.”

But the board had no choice than to impose a prison term because of the seriousness of the case.

Sentencing the defendant, Judge Advocate Alan Large said: “The evidence, frankly, was overwhelming.

“You were very far from being a drug mule... you were actively engaged in this operation, booking your own travel to minimize arrest.”

An aggravating feature of the case was the high purity of half of the cocaine.

“You will be aware of the damage drugs do to families and communities,” said Judge Large.

The soldier, who had no previous convictions for drug offences, had “completely abandoned” the standards of the British Army.

“You show no remorse,” said the judge.

Pte Agubosim was sentenced to seven years in jail and to be dismissed from the Service. He will be released on licence after serving half of the sentence.

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