Published: 15:57, 22 January 2020
| Updated: 17:19, 22 January 2020
A grandfather has been jailed for attempting to smuggle £2 million worth of heroin into Kent.
Trucker Sinan Iscan, 59, was discovered with 21 kilograms of the Class A drug at Dover’s Eastern Docks.
The Turkish national told Canterbury Crown Court he believed the contraband was tobacco and legal to import.
However, a jury convicted the grandfather-of-two after prosecutors picked apart his tissue of lies and he was jailed for 11 years.
The drug mule claimed he happened on a stranger named ‘Jan’, who he struck up a conversation with about bad debt, two-and-a-half years ago at a petrol station.
Over time they would form a friendship, with Jan later convincing Iscan to carry a package into Kent, he told the jury.
Iscan argued ‘Jan’, accompanied with a man named ‘Sakeely’, packed the drugs into his truck’s cupboard in Mons, Belgium.
“Did you look inside the bag Jan gave you?” his barrister Mr Lawrence Henderson asked.
“I didn’t,” Iscan replied.
With the aid of an interpreter, he explained he met Jan three times prior to his arrest but refused to carry packages into Kent.
But prosecutor Paul Valder argued the suspect knew he was carrying drugs because “the bag had been hidden.”
“Smuggling tobacco wouldn’t make any sense,” he added.
'You were a vital cog in a much larger criminal enterprise' - Judge Simon James
He pointed out Iscan admitted to police he was going to be paid €8-10k - the same amount as his bad debt - but later changed his story to a smaller amount.
Iscan also told Judge Simon James he believed the package contained “some kind of cannabis”, a Class B drug.
The court heard his truck was originally loaded in Toulon near Marseille, France, before detouring to Mons, West Belgium, to meet ‘Jan’.
After deliberating for an hour-and-a-half the jury unanimously returned a guilty verdict.
At sentencing prosecutor Paul Valder said the defendant played a "significant role as a lorry driver motivated by financial gain."
"The purity was an average of 54% so nothing remarkable there," he added.
But Lawrence Henderson, mitigating, claimed his client was playing the role of a mule.
"Mr Iscan could be said to have had a financial interest but if one compares the role headlines it would appear that more of those seem to fit this case in the lesser role than the significant role.
"And when it comes to other matters it is certainly an isolated incident, no previous convictions, it would appear to be the case that he was groomed over time to take this load.
"It is low purity, the general teller tends to bring uncut drugs than cut drugs, in the context in these importations it is lower than normal purity."
However, Judge Simon James highlighted Iscan provided a "vital cog in a much larger criminal enterprise."
"Class A drugs, and particularly heroin, bring misery to whole communities.
"They also offer criminals to profit handsomely from that misery.
"You didn't care what was in the holdall and deliberately didn't ask, closing your eyes to the fact you were smuggling considerable amounts of drugs into the country.
"You were providing a vital cog in a much larger criminal enterprise."
Iscan could be seen slowly nodding his head as the judge passed sentence.
Dan Scully, Border Force Regional Director, said: “This was an excellent detection, which not only kept a substantial quantity of particularly pure heroin off the streets of the UK, but was also the crucial first step in bringing Iscan to justice. The sentence reflects the seriousness of the offence and the misery heroin causes in our communities.
“Alongside our colleagues at the NCA we are determined to do all we can to stop drug traffickers and put those responsible behind bars.”
More by this authorSean Axtell