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 » Ghanian Contents Only » Ghana News Achieve » 

AIRPLANE TRAGEDY

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1 AIRPLANE TRAGEDY on Sun Jul 27, 2014 8:58 pm

cypherson

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A British drugs mule carrying half a pound of cocaine in his stomach almost died when one of the pellets he had swallowed burst in mid-flight, sparking a full-scale passenger jet emergency.

Colmin Smith, 48, was ferrying the Class A drug on a Virgin Atlantic flight from the Caribbean after swallowing, one by one, a staggering 61 pellets, each containing drugs said to be 75% pure.

After boarding at Antigua's V C Bird Airport, he settled into his seat for the flight to London Gatwick but soon felt unwell. He managed to tell an air hostess what had happened seconds before passing out.

With the clock ticking, crew immediately leapt into action, preparing the aircraft and passengers for an emergency landing.

The runway at Bermuda's L F Wade International Airport was cleared and medics from the Caribbean island's King Edward VII Memorial Hospital were placed on standby, ready to receive the patient.

A life-saving operation revealed that Smith had 239.39 grams of cocaine in his stomach, with a street value of £40,000.

When he appeared before Hamilton Magistrates Court in Bermuda Smith, from Birmingham acknowledged he was only minutes away from death.

"After I informed the flight attendant, in my mind I died," he said. "I felt the death coming."

Overcome by emotion, he thanked God and the airline crew's actions for saving his life, adding: "I've met a lot of nice people here."

The court heard how Smith, who was clearly in distress, confessed all to a stunned stewardess shortly after the flight took off on May 16.

Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner stressed that the Birmingham man was lucky to be alive.

He was told he could also "thank his lucky stars" for only being charged with possessing a controlled drug.

In Bermuda, the offence carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 dollars (£588). Smith was ordered to pay £471 or face 80 days in prison.

He coughed up the cash and, with the British Embassy's help, was deported immediately after the brief court appearance.

"I guess you are lucky," Mr Warner told Smith. "There are other technical reasons for why you've been charged with this, but let's put it down to luck.

"You should thank whoever you worship, or look to, because you are really lucky."

He added that the coke carrier was blessed to land in Bermuda.

"You didn't come to the first heaven, but you came to the second heaven," he said.

Last night a senior member of the paradise island's narcotic unit explained why Smith had escaped with a light sentence.

"Because there was no evidence that the drug was to be peddled on Bermuda's streets, he could only be charged with possession," he told the Sunday Mercury . "If he'd been found guilty of supplying the narcotics, Smith would have been banged up for life.

"He is one very lucky man. He came very close to losing his life, either by overdose or a life sentence."

The officer was not surprised by the size of the cocaine haul.

"We have dealt with individuals who have consumed 1.5 kilos (three pounds) of cocaine and heroin," he said, adding that Smith was unlikely to face further action in a UK courtroom.

Dwayne Caines, head of communications for the Bermudan Police, said: "This case stands out for two reasons: the fact that, quite simply, this man should not be with us and the exorbitant cost of his medical care.

"He was in hospital for quite a time."

And he issued a warning to anyone prepared to take the same terrible risk as Smith.

"Anyone who choses to be a drug mule is not only taking a huge risk with their health but, in this jurisdiction, risking very substantial jail time."


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