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Ex-England cricketer jailed for drug trafficking

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Author Topic: Ex-England cricketer jailed for drug trafficking  (Read 638 times)
« on: May 21, 2009, 08:58:37 am »

Former England allrounder Chris Lewis has been jailed for 13 years after being found guilty of smuggling cocaine into Britain in a cricket bag.

The 41-year-old Lewis, who played 32 tests and 53 one-day internationals, was stopped at Gatwick Airport in December.

He had travelled from the Caribbean island of St Lucia carrying a bag belonging to another man, co-defendant Chad Kirnon. The drugs were discovered in tins of fruit.

Both men were found guilty today by a jury at Croydon Crown Court and Kirnon was also sent to prison for 13 years.

Judge Nicholas Ainley, who said both men could be released after half the sentence, told them they were motivated by greed.

"You made it to the top of your profession," he told Lewis.

"This was greed and I am sure that you ran the risk that you did because you deduced that the risk was worth it, because the rewards were substantial. You were knowingly and willingly engaged in major organised crime."

The prosecution said Lewis told a customs officer that he was travelling alone and had been in St Lucia visiting friends and family.

But when his luggage was inspected, the cricket bag was found to be labelled with Kirnon's name.

When questioned, Lewis said he was simply bringing three tins of fruit juice back for his mother having bought them from a shop in St Lucia.

Lewis and Kirnon pleaded not guilty to trying to bring cocaine with an estimated street value of 140,000 ($NZ367,360) through Gatwick Airport.

Lewis told the jury he had been shocked when customs officers informed him that cans of fruit juice in his bag had tested positive for cocaine and he responded: "Could there be some mistake?"

"Throughout my life, my cricket career, when things have gone wrong, they have gone wrong very publicly," he told the court.

Lewis once showed up late for a test match against Pakistan because of a puncture, and famously got sunstroke when he played against the West Indies in the Caribbean because he shaved his head and then declined the use of a hat.

Asked if he realised he was carrying drugs in his cricket bag, he told the court: "I thought I was carrying fruit juice."

"That is the only reason that I took those cans for Mr Kirnon and at that time there was no reason at all not to carry the fruit juice," he said.

He said he had smoked marijuana from time to time but never touched cocaine.

"I've never even tried cocaine, I've never smuggled cocaine, or any other drug," he told the jury

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