A Blackburn cocaine smuggler, who stepped off a flight with £896,000 worth of the drug hidden inside the bases of her two suitcases, was jailed for five years today.
Self-employed pub manager Jacqueline Millar, 50, of Livingstone Road was stopped by the UK Border Agency at Gatwick Airport after a week-long trip to Toronto, Canada.
She pleaded guilty at Croydon Crown Court to importing a total of 4.98 kilos of cocaine split into two quantities of 66% and 69% purity on September 1.
Prosecutor Mr. Hamish Reid told the court: "The cocaine was in the bases of two suitcases carried by Millar.
"She said she was travelling alone and had gone to Toronto for a week for shopping.
"The suitcases were searched and the base of one of them seemed very bumpy and heavy and an incision revealed a white powder that tested positive for cocaine."
Millar made no comment when formally questioned, but said on the way to the custody suite: "I knew it was there, but not where. Was it a tip-off?"
First-time offender Millar,s lawyer Mr. Dennis Kavanagh said: "This is a plain-speaking, realistic lady and her position has always been: 'I'm guilty. I'm not making any excuses.'
"She has been as frank as she can be and is not going to use her age or family circumstances as an excuse.
"She was working hard in the bar trade for many years as a self-employed relief manager and fell into financial difficulties.
"There were rent and council tax arrears and she gave into a stupid temptation," added Mr. Kavanagh.
"She is not going to be in contact with her son and she has not been in contact with her family while she has been on remand at Bronzefield Prison, Surrey.
"She has not asked me to labour these points, but she is going to miss much of her son's young adulthood and she has a sister who is ill with cancer."
Judge Jeremy Gold QC told Millar: "When you take these sort of risks you are playing for high stakes and if you are caught importing cocaine certain consequences follow.
"You were hardly a sophisticated drugs courier given your age and your good character."