Man who fled to Spain after drugs bust faces jail

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A FUGITIVE who fled to Spain with his two young children after a cocaine factory run from his caravan home was busted by police is facing jail.

Charles Turner spent nearly six years on the run following his arrest in a raid which recovered more than £200,000 of the drug.

The 39-year-old appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday to admit a drug supply charge dating back to early 2007.

Police had mounted a surveillance operation on Turner, who was packaging cocaine in the caravan he shared with his son and daughter in Loanhead, Midlothian.

Turner kept bags of cocaine in a cereal box in its kitchen, while officers carrying out a search found white powder smeared across work surfaces.

His six-year-old daughter was a passenger in his Mitsubishi Shogun when he was stopped by police in Howdenhall Road in February 2007.

However, after being granted bail while awaiting trial, Turner fled to Spain with his daughter and seven-year-old son.

Their disappearance sparked a publicity campaign as social workers grew increasingly concerned for their safety.

The children were returned to Scotland in summer 2008 after their arrival at Belfast International Airport with their mother, Turner’s estranged partner Maureen Shaw, alerted immigration staff.

Turner remained on the run but came back to the UK a short time later, and spent three years living and working here before being arrested by police in April this year.

Turner is set to be sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow next month.

Advocate depute Chris Dickson told the court yesterday that Turner had been targeted by police in January 2007. Undercover officers watched Turner both pick up and hand over packages from his car in south Edinburgh.

Turner was later stopped by police while in the vehicle with his daughter and another man, and officers recovered three mobile phones.

Mr Dickson said that a search of his mobile home at Pentland Caravan Park in Loanhead found cocaine lying in “open view” with bags of the drug stored behind a sofa and TV, and inside kitchen 
cupboards and on shelves.

Along with gloves, sieves, bags and a mask lying in the caravan, officers found two hydraulic presses and a drum containing 16.2 kilos of benzocaine, a legally available dental drug often used by dealers to “cut”, or dilute, controlled substances.

Mr Dickson told the court that Turner used the presses to “re-block the drug after it has been mixed with an adulterant” as part of an “ongoing operation”.

The caravan park’s site manager told police that Turner had lived there for around four years and would regularly get a “lot of visitors” who appeared to be drug addicts.

Solicitor advocate Robbie Burnett, appearing for Turner, said that his client had developed a cocaine habit and ran up a £2000 debt to dealers in Christmas 2006. Mr Burnett said that his client then allowed his caravan to be used for drug dealing as repayment.

The lawyer said that Turner fled to Spain with his children as he feared losing custody.