Drug snorting dad had £500,000 of cocaine in back of lorry

A dad-of-two was caught with cocaine worth up to GBP500,000 hidden in the back of his lorry. Police stopped Andrew Cousins when he was driving a white Volvo HGV along Princess Way, outside Seaforth Dock. The nervous 30-year-old’s body language gave him away and officers decided to search both him and his vehicle.

Liverpool Crown Court today heard police dogs recovered five kilos of cocaine, thought to be destined for Northern Ireland. Alaric Walmsley, prosecuting, said officers stopped the lorry just 100m from the dock entrance, at 6.30pm, on November 13 last year. He said Cousins, of Kilkeel in Northern Ireland, appeared “nervous” and fidgeted inside his pockets, so was detained and searched.

Nothing was recovered, but a dog patrol was requested and the dogs searched the cab and the blue curtained trailer behind it. Cardboard boxes were removed from pallets and inside one white box, five large tightly wrapped packages were recovered. They were each found to contain one kilo of cocaine, while police also seized Cousins’ iPhone, iPad and a separate SIM card.

Mr Walmsley said the wholesale price of the cocaine was GBP34,000 to GBP40,000 per kilo, with a total wholesale value of GBP170,000 to GBP200,000. However, he said the street value if the cocaine was cut down was GBP40 to GBP100 per gram, meaning it “could have had a street value of up to half a million”. When interviewed by police, Cousins denied any knowledge of the drugs, but did provide the passcodes for his devices, which Mr Walmsley said “contained reference to the purchase and supply of illegal drugs, but not in relation to the package found”.

Cousins, who later admitted possessing the cocaine with intent to supply, has one previous conviction for careless driving in 2019. Damian Nolan, defending, said his client provided references from four people, including his sister Nadine Cousins in Northern Ireland. He said Cousins led a “hard working, decent, ordinary, law-abiding life” until his dad died and he sought “solace” in cocaine and cannabis.

Mr Nolan said his client had continued to work as a HGV driver, but this trade had been “eviscerated” by the coronavirus pandemic. He said Cousins still had a close relationship with his former partner and as a “dedicated father” provided financially for their two children. Can you help us keep Merseyside covered?

However, he said his client’s addiction to drugs and shortage of work led to “an inevitable economic crisis” and he turned to the drug trade not just for his own benefit, but so he could keep providing for his family. Mr Nolan conceded Cousins was trusted with a significant amount of drugs, but argued this incident appeared to have been a “one off”. Find your nearest vaccination centre by using your postcode below

Judge Andrew Menary, QC, told Cousins: “On the face of it, you were involved in an enterprise which would have involved transporting a very substantial quantity of drugs from England to Northern Ireland, where eventually these drugs would have ended up on the streets. “The consequences for others would have been terrible, as you yourself know, as you yourself are someone who has been taking Class A drugs for some years now. “You will appreciate the devastating effect it has, not only on individuals, but also on families and communities.”

Judge Menary said Cousins must have had some understanding of the scale of the operation, was clearly trusted to carry this quantity and type of drugs, and was motivated by financial advantage, in order to fund directly or indirectly his own habit and pay off debts. The judge said his family were “horrified” by what he had done and “deeply concerned” about the way his life had gone, as he jailed him for six years. Judge Menary told Cousins that it was clear taking cocaine “led you into low level dealing in Northern Ireland” and that while he wasn’t sentencing him for that, “it paints the picture of you involved in this type of lifestyle, which has led you then to commit this very much more serious offence”.

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