It has emerged that one of the gang members involved in a conspiracy to fly £1.7 million worth of cocaine into an airfield, near Corby, was an Iraq War Veteran.
Christopher McGlone, of Occupation Road, Corby, served three tours of duty in Iraq with the British Army, Northampton Crown Court heard yesterday, Thursday November 1.
The 27-year-old has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import Class A drugs, along with his brother James McGlone, 30, of the same address, Adel Chouhaib, 33, of Lingfield Walk, Corby, Wayne Burgess, of Westfields Road, Corby and Abdelilah Hilali, 35, of Marsham Road, London.
The gang plotted to smuggle five kilograms of the drug into Deenthorpe Airfield, roughly two miles away from Corby, from Abbeville in France.
However, police had the gang under surveillance and swooped to arrest them when the plane touched down and drugs were found in the wing compartment.
Charles Kayne, defending for Christopher McGlone, revealed to the court that the defendant was “vulnerable” when he joined the gang, as he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Mr Kayne said: “ He was vulnerable at the time of the operation and when he was offered the chance to join the gang.
“He has no previous convictions and we can see from the evidence that there is good within this man.
“He was vulnerable and the decision to take part in this operation was the one aberration in this man’s life.”
Mr Kayne continued to state that it was perhaps a bad decision to leave the army because of the massive change in his life since his departure.
He added that Christopher McGlone had an impressive army record and was well-known to help train children at Corby Boxing Club.
The court spent the majority of the morning deliberating the role that Chouhaib played in the conspiracy in a special hearing.
Judge Lynn Tayton QC concluded that the Londoner played a “leading role” in the smuggling plot.
She added that it was clear that Chouhaib had directed the other members of the group, directed the buying of the plane and ordered the training of Burgess.
Having bought a light aircraft for cash, the gang arranged for the consignment of drugs to be transported to France where Burgess would pick them up in the plane and fly the shipment back to England.
The court heard that Chouhaib had arranged for Burgess to train as a pilot and had organised the purchase of the plane.
Chouhaib admits being part of the plot, but claims he was only the “transport manager” and the entire operation was arranged by someone above him – who he would not name.
Richard Murray, of Green Hill Rise, Corby, is also due to be sentenced - The 50-year-old is charged with travelling to the Netherlands, collecting the cocaine, and then transporting it to France.
The group were due to be sentenced yesterday but, because of the time taken to decide whether or not Chouhaib was the ringleader, the judge decided that they will be sentenced today.