Martin Newman given 20 years after disguised cocaine kills taxi driver in London, England

A man has been found guilty at court of the manslaughter of a taxi driver after he arranged for a deadly batch of cocaine to be smuggled into the country.

Martin Newman, 49 years, of Wadeville Avenue, Romford, appeared at Croydon Crown Court today, 11 August, where he was found guilty of the manslaughter of Lascelle Malcolm, 63, of Haringey and importing the class A drug. He has been ordered to serve a total of 20 years imprisonment.

The court heard how Mr. Malcolm, of Rutland Gardens, N4, had unwittingly consumed the liquid cocaine, which was disguised in a bottle of Bounty Rum, after being handed the drink as a gift on 25 May 2009.

Earlier that day the father-of-two had offered to collect close friend, Antoinette Corlis, in his taxi as she returned to Gatwick Airport after a holiday in St Lucia.

He drove Ms Corlis back to her home in Haringey and as he refused to take a cash payment for the trip, she passed him a bottle of rum which had been brought back from the Caribbean.

It emerged that previously at Gatwick Airport, Ms Collis had been presented the drink by Swiss travelling companion, Michael Lawrence, who was carrying two bottles for Martin Newman having been asked by him to take the bottles onto the flight on his behalf.

Newman, who was on the same flight, knew the bottles each contained 8.7oz of pure cocaine dissolved into the alcohol and that just one teaspoon of the liquid would be fatal. He also knew that each bottle contained cocaine with a street value of up to £20,000.

He had intended to collect the bottles from the unsuspecting Mr. Lawrence as he arrived at Gatwick but Customs officers intercepted Newman before he could retrieve them.

As Mr. Lawrence was unable to find Newman he kept one of the bottles and handed the other to Ms Corlis. She in turn then presented her bottle to Mr. Malcolm who tragically consumed the cocaine-laced rum along with a pint of Guinness on 25 May 2009. He immediately felt ill and called for an ambulance in the early hours of 26 May. He was taken to the WhittingtonHospital but later discharged and collapsed at his home. He died of a heart attack triggered by the cocaine poisoning.

The link to the suspect bottle of rum emerged later that day when two of Mr. Malcolm’s friends, Charles Roach, aged 41, and Trevor Tugman, 38, arrived at his house to pay their respects. They found the drink and as they raised a toast to Mr. Malcolm they drank the cocaine and both suffered seizures.

They were taken to hospital but were later discharged having survived their ordeal.

Investigating officer, DC Paul Coyle, of Haringey CID, said: "This was an unusual and tragic case which saw a good deed end in a father’s death. Mr. Malcolm had only wanted to assist a friend and the friend in turn had only wanted to thank him. Had Newman not arranged for the potent and deadly drug to be imported the tragic sequence of events would never have occurred. Mr. Malcolm’s family and friends have been left devastated by his death and his two close friends who visited his home were lucky to survive."

Brodie Clark, head of Border Force for the UK Border Agency, said: "This tragic case clearly demonstrates why we stress that people must not carry any items through the border controls for anyone else. No matter how well you think you may know someone, drug smugglers are unscrupulous and will gladly gamble with other people’s lives or freedom for an easy profit.

"Our officers had already identified a possible smuggling operation and recovered two bottles of drink containing cocaine. Unfortunately, by people innocently believing they were doing someone a favour, the cocktail of alcohol and cocaine found its way into unsuspecting hands with dreadful consequences."

Lascelle Malcolm’s wife Gretal, said at the conclusion of the case: "My husband paid the ultimate price for Martin Newman’s deceitful, selfish and dangerous operation of importing drugs into the UK. Justice was served today when he was convicted of drug importation and the manslaughter of my husband. The last 14 months have been a living nightmare for our family and we were left with so many unanswered questions. Now with the conclusion of the case and verdict we can begin to build our lives again and remember Lascelle as the loving, kind-hearted man he was. He will surely be missed by all of his family.

"I would also like to thank everyone who attended the hearing to support us and also thank the witnesses and the jurors. I also want to thank the police who have looked after us and our prosecution barrister, Mr. Oliver Glasgow for his hard work."

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