Man has been jailed 18 years

26 February 2010

New Scotland Yard

A man appearing for retrial at Isleworth Crown Court has yesterday (25 February) pleaded guilty to his role in importing £38.5 million worth of drugs and has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Robert Flook, 49 years, was originally sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court on 01.02.08 to 26 years inprisonment for conspiracy to supply 150 kilos of Class A Drugs (cocaine) and 13 years for conspiracy to supply 8 tonnes of Class C Drugs (cannabis) to run concurrently.

"Flook's conviction demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that those who important highly illegal drugs will be brought to justice."

Following an appeal at the High Court in June 2009 where the case was ordered for retrial, Flook has today pleaded guilty at Isleworth Crown Court to two counts:

  • being concerned in the supply of 8.1 tonnes of cannabis
  • attempt to evade the prohibition of a liability of 150 kilos of cocaine

At his original trial the jury heard that Flook was arrested with another man, David Norris, following a joint investigation conducted between the SCD7 Projects team and South African Organised Crime law enforcement agencies. The operation focused on the importation of cocaine and cannabis by British nationals into the UK from South Africa.

The investigation culminated in the seizure of eight tonnes of cannabis in September 2006 with a wholesale value of £12M / street value £28M. The consignment was seized at Felixstowe port and concealed in a shipment South African garden furniture.

The second seizure was made in South Africa the following month and consisted of 150 kilos of cocaine with a wholesale value of £4M / street value £10.5M. This consignment had been concealed in mirrors destined for the UK.

It is believed that the network started importing drugs in 2001, with similarly sized consignments to those seized in September / October 2006 being imported undetected until the police seizures in 2006.

Flook was one of the key organisers the network and the jury heard how they started importing drugs in 2001, with similarly sized consignments to those seized in September / October 2006 being imported undetected.

Flook operated two businesses, Playaway Events Ltd based at various addresses in south London and in Belvedere, Kent. This is the company that was used to import the garden furniture that acted as the cover load for the cannabis. The second business was P&G Mirrors UK based in Brixham and Newton Abbott, Devon which was used as the front for the cocaine importations.

During Flook's original trial it was shown that the network imported some 11 containers containing cannabis between 2001 and 2006, which based on the quantity seized in September 2006 was valued at £132million wholesale value/ £308million street value.

In addition the evidence showed the network imported four containers of cocaine with an estimated value of £16million wholesale/ £42million street value between 2004 - 2006.

This brings the total value of the drugs concerned with Flook's operation to in the region of £148million wholesale, with a street value of £350million (Cocaine £42million - Cannabis £308million).

Three British men were arrested in South Africa at the same time as Flooks. They are John Tutton, Tommy Mackinnon; and Ernie Smith, and all were resident in Johannesburg at the time of their arrest.

On 21.12.07 Tutton and MacKinnon were found guilty in South Africa of two counts of dealing narcotic substances. Each received 20 years imprisonment for dealing in cocaine and 20 years imprisonment for dealing in cannabis, 10 years of which to run consecutively to the 20 years - making an effective sentence of 30 years for each defendant. This is the longest sentence ever imposed on a drugs defendant in South African history. They ran the South African arm of Playaway Events and P&G Mirror warehouses and were responsible for loading and shipping the drugs to the UK on Flook's behalf. (Smith was acquitted.)

Detective Inspector Craig Turner, who led the Projects Team operation, said:

"This case demonstrates the Met's fight against the criminal networks who operate both nationally and internationally and seek to import vast quantities of controlled drugs for distribution in the capital.

"The Projects team of the Metropolitan Police Serious and Organised Crime Command continue in their efforts to successfully dismantle and disrupt these networks and to stem the flow of drugs to the UK.

"Flook's conviction demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that those who important highly illegal drugs will be brought to justice. This case was the result of months of work between law enforcement agencies in the UK and South Africa, and his re-sentence represents the substantial damage these drugs would have caused."

Robert Daniel Flook (17.11.60 - 49 ys) unemployed, of Eltham Park Gardens, Eltham was originally found guilty at trial on 28.8.07 of conspiracy to supply 150 kilos of Class A Drugs (cocaine) and conspiracy to supply 8 tonnes of Class C Drugs (cannabis).