Drugs plot uncovered after mule fell sick

Police uncovered a plot to smuggle fentanyl into Bermuda when a drugs mule fell sick and required emergency treatment, a court heard.

Jacqueline Robinson swallowed 45 pellets of the drug before travelling from Toronto to Bermuda with her boyfriend Craig Lawrence in December 2016, a jury at the Supreme Court was told yesterday.

The pair stayed at the Hamilton Princess Hotel and Beach Club where Ms Robinson fell seriously ill after regurgitating most of the pellets and had to be rushed to hospital, prompting police to launch an investigation.

Jurors have been told that Ms Robinson admitted her role in the drug smuggling operation and will give evidence against Mr Lawrence, and a third man, Maurice Martin, later in the trial.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Lawrence was part of the conspiracy to bring the drugs to Bermuda and supply them to others, while Mr Martin collected the pellets of fentanyl from the hotel to supply to others.

Opening the case for the Crown yesterday, prosecutor Alan Richards said: “We are alleging that there was an agreement in the first instance between Mr Lawrence, Ms Robinson and others to import the controlled drugs.

“The controlled drug in question is fentanyl, a synthetic opiate related to heroin, and you will hear it is a very powerful drug indeed.”

Mr Richards added: “Our case is that Mr Martin was involved in collecting the pellets of fentanyl that Robinson had swallowed and regurgitated, and it can be inferred that those drugs were for onwards supply given the quantity and purity.”

Mr Lawrence and Ms Robinson arrived in Bermuda on board a WestJet flight from Canada on December 15, 2016.

Mr Richards told jurors that the couple had originally planned to stay at the Windsong Guest Apartments, but ended up at the Hamilton Princess Hotel because they had not made a reservation.

“It is our case that they were accompanied on that journey to the Windsong apartments by Mr Martin, who is a resident in Bermuda, although he did not travel in the same car,” he added. “That was the start of his involvement.”

Ms Robinson fell seriously ill on December 20, 2016, while at the Hamilton Princess, having regurgitated 44 of the 45 pellets she had swallowed, the court heard.

Former hotel employee, Gene-Anne Bean, described attending the couple’s room and seeing a woman sprawled across a chair on the balcony.

“I asked the hotel’s head of security whether she was dead. He said he was not sure but that paramedics were on their way,” Ms Bean said. “I felt for a pulse in her neck. I could not feel one. She was puffy and swollen.

“I went into the bathroom to get a cloth, I wet the towel and dabbed it around her neck. Then the paramedics came.”

Mr Richards told the Supreme Court that Mr Martin was also involved in securing the couple accommodation at the Hamilton Princess.

He said: “We say that clearly the plan was for Robinson to stay there with Lawrence, with whom she was to some extent in a relationship, and pass the pellets of fentanyl that she consumed.

“Lawrence was involved in the process of cleaning them up and arranging for them to be collected. Martin was the person who came to the room on a number of occasions to collect the capsules.”

Prosecutors said that one of the pellets containing fentanyl must have ruptured causing Ms Robinson to become seriously ill. Mr Lawrence was also taken to hospital for “ill effects from exposure to the fentanyl”; although his condition was less severe.

Mr Lawrence denies conspiracy to import a controlled drug and also conspiracy to supply a controlled drug. Mr Martin denies conspiracy to supply a controlled drug. The case continues.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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