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Accused smuggler ‘shocked’ by discovered drugs

A man accused of smuggling $430,000 worth of drugs into Bermuda said he agreed to bring in shirts and baby supplies for a friend and had no idea drugs were hidden inside the items.

Edward Jaloni Albouy, 25, told the Supreme Court yesterday he was “shocked and surprised” when the drugs were found, and called his friend after he was released from custody.

Mr Albouy said: “I asked him if he would come clean. Obviously, I didn’t do it.

“When I told him what happened, all he could tell me is ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’

“He just kept telling me he was sorry and he didn’t think it was that serious.”

Mr Albouy explained he flew to Britain on August 23, 2017 to visit colleges in Birmingham and a British friend who lived in Bristol.

He stayed in a hotel near Birmingham then caught a train to Bristol to meet the friend, who cannot be identified for legal reasons. Mr Albouy said he had expected to return to his hotel that night, but lost track of time and the friend offered to let him stay with him.

He added because he had not brought toiletries or a change of clothes, the pair went to a Tesco supermarket to buy a few items.

Mr Albouy said his friend asked him if he could take some items back to Bermuda with him while they were in the store.

He added: “He asked me if I would take back some items he was going to buy for his godson and his friend, another Bermudian.

“It was a surprise to me that he even knew any one else in Bermuda.”

Mr Albouy said he agreed and the friend bought a dozen three-packs of white shirts, four packets of diapers and two packets of baby wipes.

He added he did not pay much attention to the items after they were bought and after two nights in Bristol he returned to his hotel near Birmingham with the goods and packed them into his suitcases. Mr Albouy said he didn’t notice anything unusual about the items and was shocked when customs officers found the ecstasy, cannabis and cannabis resin inside them when he returned to Bermuda on September 3, 2017.

He said: “I couldn’t believe there was something inside. I still wasn’t sure what it was, but it was something I didn’t know was there.

“I was thinking about how it could have gotten there. It went through my mind who could have placed this there. I was all over the place.

“I thought to myself there was no way my friend would have done something like this to me.”

Mr Albouy told Alan Richards, the Crown counsel, he took two large suitcases with him to the UK because he had thought he might go shopping and wanted the extra luggage space.

But he said he did not buy much, which left him with enough space to accommodate his friend’s request.

The defendant added he did not think it was unusual that his friend would buy 36 white shirts and did not notice they were in two different sizes.

Mr Albouy said: “I didn’t see anything suspicious with it. I trusted him as a good friend and I know people who prefer to buy things in bulk when they travel.”

Mr Richards suggested that Mr Albouy knew what he was doing and what he had brought back to Bermuda.

He said: “I would suggest that nobody familiar with travel and with any common sense would accept these items without question to carry back to somebody they didn’t even know.

“Anybody with an ounce of common sense would realise that this didn’t add up. You were running a risk that I suggest nobody would seriously take.”

But Mr Albouy insisted that he had no idea what was hidden in the packages.

He also denied that he told Customs officers that he had bought the goods, or that they were for one of his friends.

Mr Richards also quizzed Mr Albouy about dirty laundry in one of his suitcases.

Mr Albouy said he was ill on the flight to the UK and had been sick on his pants.

He claimed he had planned to get the pants cleaned before he returned to the island, but did not get the chance.

Mr Albouy denied that he used the soiled pants to cover the smell of cannabis hidden in the suitcase and that he used a deodorant spray when the second suitcase was opened and the smell of the drugs became apparent.

The search of the diapers, shirts and baby wipes revealed about 2,957 grams of MDMA — also known as ecstasy, 1,633 grams of cannabis and 1,209 grams of cannabis resin.

The drugs were estimated to have a street value if $236,540, $81,650 and $120,000 respectively.

Mr Albouy has denied importation of the drugs and possession with intent to supply.

The trial continues.

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