September 19 2014 Latest news:
Emma Lake, Reporter
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Two Havering men, who were members of a team that tried to bring 26 kilos of cocaine into the UK concealed in a containers of exotic fruit, are serving 20-year prison sentences.
Roy Godber, 64, of Wennington Road, Rainham, and David Roberts, 61, of Romford, absconded during their trial in September 2011 and were convicted in absence to spend 20-years in prison. After a year-long hunt investigators tracked the pair to Malta and they were extradited in 2013 after serving a sentence for possession of false passports.
Reporting restrictions on a four-year investigation that saw members of two organised crime groups, including Godber and Roberts, jailed for more than 148 years have been lifted after the final member was jailed.
The two groups had tried to use corrupt shipping company manager Shaun Wilson, 46, of Madeira Road, Portsmouth, to import cocaine through Portsmouth Docks.
The National Crime Agency observed the two groups as they met separately with Wilson to plan the imports.
Each shipment was timed to coincide with Wilson’s shifts so he could remove the drugs from the docks without detection.
Neither group achieved their aim. The first, of which Godber and Roberts were members with an organisational role, was foiled after a container containing pineapples shipped from Costa Rica was seized in November 2010 and found to contain 26 kilos of the class A drug, cocaine, with an estimated street value of up to £3million.
The capture of Wilson during the operation prevented the second group from succeeding with their plan to import cocaine hidden in a container of bananas.
Wilson was found guilty of one charge of conspiracy of import cocaine in September 2011 and jailed for 14 years. He pleaded guilty to the second conspiracy in March 2013 and received a concurrent eight-year sentence.
The remaining seven men were from London, Kent and Portsmouth.
Gerry McGowan, National Crime Agency operations manager, said: “The long term plan was to import vast quantities of cocaine on a regular basis.
“Protecting our boundaries is a priority for the NCA. We will be relentless in pursuing criminals who try to bring drugs into the country, however long it takes and wherever they try to hide.”
Two further men from Rainham were arrested as part of the wider investigation after a car with £300,000 concealed in a purpose built compartment underneath the boot was seized. The men were later convicted of money laundering offences.