Man spared jail despite transporting 'industrial quantities' of cocaine to Devon

Achilleas Costa appeared at the Old Bailey accused of murdering a father and daughter in Wood Green

The case was heard at Exeter Crown Court - Credit: PA

A man who was forced to give up work because of illness was caught transporting 'industrial quantities' of cocaine to Devon to earn 'small amounts of money'.

Philip Humphreys was stopped on the M5 near Cranbrook with more than 300 grams of cocaine, destined to be sold on the streets by a Liverpool-based county lines gang.

He agreed to transport the drugs for a fee of a few hundred pounds and had already made eight previous journeys by the time he was arrested in September last year.

He was spared an immediate jail sentence after a judge at Exeter Crown Court heard he is in very poor health and has already spent more than five months under curfew.

Humphreys, 49, of Barchester Drive, Liverpool, admitted possession of cocaine with intent to supply and was jailed for a year and 10 months, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 15 days of rehabilitation activities.

Judge Peter Johnson told him: "This is your first time you have been sentenced by a criminal court and it is for a serious matter.

"You have lived an unblemished life for many years, brought up children, and been a man of exemplary conduct, as attested to in your references.

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"You then decided to earn some money after you lost your job because of ill health and late in 2020 you were given the opportunity to earn relatively small amounts of money in return for taking massive risks.

"While you were taking those massive risks, they were making industrial quantities of money from cocaine. You were paid a total of £1,500 for nine trips."

The judge said he was able to suspend the sentence because of Humphrey's ill health and his lesser role in the operation.

Caroline Bolt, prosecuting, said Humphreys was intercepted bringing cocaine to Devon for a Merseyside gang in September 2020. Phone evidence showed he had made nine trips in all.

Herc Ashworth, defending, said Humphreys had been tempted by easy money at a time of financial hardship. 

He suffers from serious heart and pancreas conditions which mean his health would be at risk if he went to prison, Mr Ashworth added.