Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Serious and Organised Crime Command conducted an operation after Michael Richardson, on 17 March 2010, checked two drugs-laden suitcases, one red and one silver, into a Barbados flight bound for the UK.
On arrival in Gatwick, Richardson collected his bags from the carousel in the baggage hall and took them into the car park to a waiting BMW. Richardson placed the cases in the boot and headed for West Lane, SE16.
Once in London, Richardson entered 72 Millpond Estate, leaving the drugs-laden cases in the car. After approximately four or five minutes, Christopher Grocott left the address and went to the same car. The car was seen heading to St James Road, SE15, before dropping Grocott off to return to his home address in Millpond Estate, SE16.
Detectives searched Grocott’s home address where both Grocott and Richardson were arrested at the scene. Grocott’s response to arrest was: "How did you know we were here?" and Richardson said: "It’s all down to me!" Both were found in possession of matching silver keys, later confirmed as keys to unlock the red drugs-laden suitcase.
Simultaneously to the arrests, officers searched Winford Court, SE15, a separate address identified during earlier enquiries. The house was occupied by one lone female, Grocott’s niece. Officers found the two suitcases in a locked room at the premises still bearing the flight luggage labels in Richardson’s name. Both were searched and found to contain a total of 21 blocks of cocaine wrapped in black carbon paper. Each block weighed one kilo.
During interview Grocott gave a prepared written statement which read: "My cousin Michael Richardson came back from holiday and told me he had drugs in his case. I told him I didn’t want them in my flat, but I decided to help him by hiding them for a short time. I thought the drugs were weed (cannabis). I put them in the back room of my niece’s flat. She was sleeping when I went in, she knows nothing of this. I knocked on her bedroom door and told her I’ve put two suitcases in there."
Both were charged with fraudulent evasion of a prohibition on the importation of class A controlled drugs and later stood trial for conspiracy to supply class A drugs, namely 21 kilos of cocaine. They were found guilty and sentenced today as follows:
– Michael Richardson, 39, unemployed of Albert Road, SE25 was jailed for 16 years.
– Christopher Grocott, 45, unemployed of Millponds Estate, SE16 was jailed for 16 years.
Detective Constable Mark Reeves from the MPS’s Projects Team said: "These men attempted to import large volumes of an illegal drug into this country. The blatant manner in which they did this shows they had no regard for the law, were financially motivated and even prepared to incriminate an innocent relative in the process. The severity of today’s sentence shows how seriously the judicial system takes anyone dealing illegal drugs."
Joseph Trapasso, 48, a computer engineer of Meadow Road, SW8 was found not guilty.