Sentence extended for convicted Ilkley drug smuggler

Members of the navy stand behind cocaine taken from onboard the yacht Makayabella
Members of the navy stand behind cocaine taken from onboard the yacht Makayabella
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A convicted West Yorkshire drug smuggler was today sentenced to 11 years in prison after the Court of Appeal overturned his original sentence.

James Hill, from Ilkley, was originally convicted at Leeds Crown Court in September last year and sentenced to six years in prison for his role in a conspiracy involving three other people from West Yorkshire, to import over a tonne of cocaine into the UK.

James Hill's prison sentence has been extended after a hearing at the Court of Appeal today.  Pic: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

James Hill's prison sentence has been extended after a hearing at the Court of Appeal today. Pic: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

But solicitor, General Robert Buckland QC MP, had that sentence referred to the Court of Appeal under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme and earlier today he presented the case in court where he argued that the original sentence should be replaced with a longer term due to the seriousness of the offences.

Speaking after the hearing, the solicitor said: “Drugs are a scourge on our community, causing a huge amount of despair. This offender was involved purely for financial gain, with no thought to the lives he might ruin along the way.

“I hope this increased sentence acts as a deterrent to other potential drug smugglers.”

Hill, then aged 31, was one of four people sentenced last year for their involvement in an international plot to smuggle cocaine into the UK.

I hope this increased sentence acts as a deterrent to other potential drug smugglers.

General Robert Buckland QC MP

The others, Dawne Powell, 56, David Webster, 44, and Philip McElhone, 29, were given sentences ranging from three to 11 years at Leeds Crown Court after high purity blocks of the class A drug were seized from a yacht off the Irish coast in September 2015.

The drugs were found by the Irish navy on the Makayabella yacht which had been bought by Powell in the Caribbean and used to smuggle the drugs across the Atlantic Ocean from Venezuela.

Powell, from Guiseley, Leeds, was sentenced to three years for money laundering but was cleared of a charge of conspiracy to import cocaine.

Webster, from Otley, and McElhone, from Halton Moor, Leeds, were each jailed for 11 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine.

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