Offender tried to smuggle £200,000-worth of drugs inside wheels

By Sam Turton  
Thursday 23rd June 2022 4:15 pm

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A man who agreed to have a parcel containing drugs delivered through his employer in exchange for £1,000, has been jailed for just under four years.

John Martin Houghton, 55, of Peel Road, Douglas, had previously pleaded guilty to being concerned in the production of cannabis to the island.

During sentencing, before Deemster Graham Cook at the Court of General Gaol, it was revealed that Houghton had approached his manager about having a set of wheels delivered to the island through the company on May 24.

He had agreed to receive the package in exchange for £1,000, which he intended to spend on repairing his car.

Prosecutor Roger Kane said that after the parcel arrived, early on the morning of June 1, a search by police dog ‘Gibbs’ led officers to examine the package and arrest Houghton.

Inside the wheels, officers found 48 packages of cannabis, totalling 11.6kg, with a street value of £232,914.

Mr Kane said that Houghton had told the police that he didn’t know what was in the package, but having been offered £1,000, he assumed it was drugs.

Defence advocate Stephen Wood noted that the case had seen a ‘meteoric’ progress through the courts, driven by his client’s cooperation with the police.

He said Houghton had been a ‘refreshingly straightforward individual who admitted his wrongdoing’.

Mr Wood also confirmed that Houghton had not sought any reports to be prepared ahead of sentencing as he knew he would be facing a custodial sentence in any circumstance.

Mr Wood added: ‘He’s starting to appreciate that it’s beggars belief to risk years of one’s liberty for £1,000.’

In sentencing, Deemster Cook said Houghton’s was an ‘appalling and disgraceful offence’ but gave him full credit for his ‘openness and frankness’ in admitting his guilt.

However, he added that Houghton was ‘fortunate’ that it was only cannabis in the wheels as Class A drugs would have seen him receive a far higher sentence.

Deemster Cook sentenced Houghton to 46 months in prison, with automatic release at 23 months.

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