A MAN from St Helens has been convicted for his part in a multi-million pound cocaine smuggling plot.

Christopher Bullows, 54, admitted at Canterbury Crown Court last month to his part in the attempt to smuggle 243kg of cocaine into the UK on an empty passenger coach.

He was convicted alongside Mark Tucker, who was found guilty this week after a five-day trial. 

St Helens Star:

Christopher Bullows

The National Crime Agency investigated Bullows and Tucker after the coach was stopped at Dover docks in September 2020.

Bullows was driving the vehicle and Tucker was his only passenger.

The pair attempted to smuggle a huge quanitity of drugs

The pair attempted to smuggle a huge quanitity of drugs

A search by Border Force uncovered the cocaine hidden in a specially constructed wastewater tank.

The drugs would have been worth around £19.4million if sold on the streets of the UK.

Bullows, 50, of Lord Street, St Helens, told NCA investigators that he had taken the coach to Belgium so that the air conditioning system, which was under warranty there, could be repaired.

He said that Tucker was a friend and had come along "for the jolly".

Mark Tucker

Mark Tucker

Tucker, 53, of Longshaw Street, Blackburn, said he was a mechanic and had joined Bullows on the trip to check on the repairs.

But police say further enquiries showed that the air conditioning had been mended in the UK just months before the trip.

Bullows and Tucker were subsequently charged with attempting to import class A drugs.

The drugs would have been worth around £19.4 million if sold on the streets of the UK

The drugs would have been worth around £19.4 million if sold on the streets of the UK

They initially denied the charge but Bullows changed his plea to guilty at Canterbury Crown Court on April 22.

Tucker was convicted by a jury on Tuesday following a five-day trial at the same court.

They attempted to smuggle 243 kilos of cocaine into the UK on an empty passenger coach

They attempted to smuggle 243 kilos of cocaine into the UK on an empty passenger coach

He and Bullows will be sentenced on May 21.

In a statement NCA Branch Commander Mark McCormack said: “The account given by Bullows and Tucker about their trip to Belgium was a pitiful attempt to disguise their criminality.

"This was nothing more than a cynical plot to bring a substantial amount of cocaine into the UK.

“Class A drugs are inextricably linked to violence and exploitation in our communities, and we will continue to work with our partners to target the organised crime groups involved.”