A Nigerian smuggler was jailed for three years today after he was caught with more than a kilo of high purity cocaine, worth £387,000 on the streets, hidden internally.
Mathew Atueyi was stopped by a UK Border Force officer when he arrived at Edinburgh after travelling via Paris from his homeland.
Atueyi, 48, was found to have £2000 in cash with him but claimed it was to be used for buying clothes for a boutique.
He maintained he planned to spend a week in Edinburgh on holiday but a test gave a positive gave a positive indication for cocaine.
He was detained and a strip search was carried out but nothing was found. He was taken to St Johns’ Hospital, at Livingston, in West Lothian, and x-rayed to reveal he had internal packages.
Atueyi subsequently passed 80 packages containing almost 1.2 kilos of cocaine which was found to be 65 per cent pure.
Street level cocaine in the east of Scotland is only 10 per cent and it was calculated it had the potential to realise £387,400 if sold in one gram deals.
His counsel, Michael Anderson, told the High Court in Edinburgh: “He knew he was ingesting drugs into his own body, although he was not clear what the drugs were.”
He said there was concern for Atueyi’s own health because of the level of cocaine in his blood as a result of the amount.
The defence counsel said the offence arose because of Atueyi’s desperation to provide for his family after a traffic accident.
The judge, Lord Burns, told Atueyi: “You agreed to bring in £387,000 worth of high purity cocaine at street market values.”
“Such a large quantity of Class A drugs must be a matter of great concern to these courts and requires to be visited with a substantial custodial sentence in order, among other things, to deter others from participating in the drugs trade,” he said.
Lord Burns said he also took into account that the first offender had previously “led a life free of crime” and had been a hard-working member of the community.
“You have a wife and young children at home and an elderly mother who are placed in difficult circumstances because of your activity,” he said.
The judge also pointed out that Atueyi had been assessed as posing a low risk of re-offending.
He told the drugs smuggler that he would have faced a four and a half year prison sentence but for his guilty plea.
Father-of-four Atueyi, from Onitsha, in Nigeria, earlier admitted committing a drug smuggling offence at Edinburgh airport on August 2 this year.
The court heard that when he was interviewed following his detention to said he had been paid £2000 up front and was to get a further £2000 on delivery.
Mr Anderson said that before the accident Atueyi had been a hard-working man who ran a business supplying car and bus parts and tyres, but as a result of the accident he could not continue to do so.
Lord Burns told Atueyi, through an interpreter, that he would make a recommendation that he be deported.
Atueyi was weeping as he left the dock.