Two jailed for smuggling cannabis resin on flight

AN AURIGNY baggage handler, who helped two men to smuggle cannabis resin into Guernsey, has been sentenced to five years in prison, while an accomplice will be spending eight years behind bars.

Luke Arron Blondel, 37, who was working as an Aurigny baggage handler in March 2019, admitted the charge at the earliest opportunity.

Daniel Mark Gauvain, 29, had denied the importation, but was found guilty at trial.

Both men had also pleaded guilty to not providing the passcodes to their mobile phones when required by the court.

Royal Court building, St James Street. (29132305)

The court heard how 9.37kg of cannabis resin was in a rucksack, which was in a suitcase belonging to Jamie Malcolm Ferbrache. Ferbrache is also facing the joint charges of importation, with Gauvain and Blondel, as well as some further charges.

He failed to answer bail to be sentenced yesterday and a warrant for his arrest has been issued.

It is suspected he had absconded to the UK after being found guilty at a trial last year.

He travelled to Guernsey with Gauvain in March 2019 on a flight from Manchester. CCTV footage showed Blondel removing the backpack from the suitcase in the aircraft’s hold and taking it into an Aurigny vehicle with him.

Two men have been sent to prison after smuggling cannabis resin into Guernsey. Daniel Mark Gauvain (29129926)

He was stopped shortly afterwards and asked if he had anything to declare. He declared the bag, but then made no comment.

His fingerprints were later found on the drug packaging inside the bag. In interview he said he had been paid £5,000 to collect the rucksack and deliver it to someone. He admitted being in debt.

Gauvain refused to give law enforcement his phone’s passcode, while Blondel argued he could not recall the code. Specialists were able to access Blondel’s phone. This revealed that he had been in contact with someone suspected to be involved with this case, but nothing else relevant was found.

The drugs were worth between £187,400 and £281,100.

Two men have been sent to prison after smuggling cannabis resin into Guernsey. Luke Blondel. (29129930)

Advocate Phoebe Cobb, representing Gauvain, said her client still maintained his innocence in relation to the importation. She said he was a local man, who was very family orientated.

Advocate Andrew Ayres, for Blondel, said his client had admitted his guilt at the earliest opportunity. He had been trying to find work, but the pandemic and these legal proceedings had prevented him finding a job.

References from former Aurigny managing director Malcolm Hart and former Aurigny CEO Mark Darby were handed up to the jurats for consideration.

Lieutenant-Bailiff Russell Finch noted Gauvain’s continued denial, despite his guilt being obvious. He also highlighted the part Blondel had played.

‘Mr Blondel was a cog in the machine and betrayed the trust his employer had in him,’ he said.

Gauvain was sentenced to eight years in prison for the importation. Blondel’s early guilty plea and mitigation led to a five-year prison sentence for his part in the importation. Both men were also given six months in prison, consecutive to the other sentences, for failing to disclose their mobile phone passcodes.

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