The sentencing of a gang who plotted to smuggle £1.7 million worth of cocaine via an airfield near Corby began at Northampton Crown Court today (Thursday, October 31).
Adel Chouhaib, 33, of Lingfield Walk, Corby; James McGlone, 30, and Christopher McGlone, 27, both of Occupation Road, Corby; Abdelilah Hilali, 35, of Marsham Road, London; and Wayne Burgess, 36, of Westfields Road, Corby, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import Class A drugs at a hearing earlier this year.
But Judge Lynn Tayton QC delayed sentencing until after a special hearing at which she could determine whether Chouhaib was the ringleader of the plot, as the prosecution claims. Her decision would impact on Chouhaib’s sentence, as well as those handed out to the other defendants.
Prosecuting, James Thomas told the court Chouhaib was “at the heart” of the conspiracy, which involved Burgess flying a microlight aircraft to Abbeville, northern France, and bringing back 5kg of cocaine to the former RAF Deenethorpe, about two miles east of Corby.
Police were on hand to arrest Burgess once he landed at Deenethorpe on June 26, 2011.
Burgess had collected the cocaine from a courier, 50-year-old Richard Murray, of Greenhill Rise, Corby, who had brought the drugs from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Murray was later arrested by police after arriving back in Dover.
Mr Thomas told the court Chouhaib, who is already serving a jail sentence for selling cannabis from a house in Corby, had overseen the whole operation.
He also said Christopher and James McGlone both played “significant” roles in the operation.
Murray, who was not in court on Wednesday, will be sentenced on Friday.