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Former pilot arrested at Gatwick is jailed for being four times over alcohol limit

A former pilot who was more than four times the alcohol limit when he reported for duty has been jailed.

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Julian Monaghan was arrested at Gatwick Airport just minutes before the British Airways Boeing 777 to Mauritius was due to take off on the evening of 18 January.

He was subsequently charged with performing an ancillary activity to an aviation function with 86mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system.

The legal limit is 20mg.

Monaghan, 49, a resident of South Africa, pleaded guilty at Crawley Magistrates’ Court on 6 June and was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on Tuesday (12 June) to eight months’ imprisonment – this was reduced from 12 months due to his early guilty plea.

Detective Constable Stuart Macpherson, the officer in charge of the case, said:

“Monaghan was reported to us through the diligence and integrity of the aircraft technician who smelt alcohol on his breath and alerted the authorities as appropriate.

“Although he offered mitigating circumstances and was not an operating pilot on the day in question, he was still an active member of the flight deck and could have been called upon at any moment. Therefore his mitigation does not alter the fact that he potentially put the lives of more than 200 people at risk.

“There are no laybys at 30,000ft and has Monaghan been required to take control of the aircraft in the event of an emergency on the flight deck in the early stages of the flight, his judgement and abilities would have been impaired.”

Senior Crown Prosecutor Alice Trodden, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: “The defendant was four times over the prescribed alcohol limit when he reported for duty as first officer for the flight.

“The defendant was arrested just 10 minutes before the flight was due to push back and the potential consequences, had he been required to take control of the plane while impaired in the event of an emergency, cannot be underestimated.

“In the face of the overwhelming evidence put forward by the police and CPS, the defendant pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity.”

Crime

Two jailed after attempt to smuggle 8.5kgs of cocaine through Gatwick

“This was a deliberate, if unsophisticated attempt to smuggle dangerous Class A drugs into the UK”, says Chris Capel, Assistant Director of Border Force South.

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The drugs, which had been wrapped in plastic and hidden inside boxes marked ‘rum’, weighed approximately 8.5kgs.

Two men from Barbados are facing a total of 13 years in jail after pleading guilty to attempting to smuggle an estimated 8.5kgs of cocaine into the UK.

On 1 September, Border Force officers stopped 62-year-old Grantley Herbert Thompson, and 30-year-old Jamal Ricardo Walcott, in the customs channels at Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal. Both had arrived on a flight from Barbados.

More news: Crawley’s Community Wardens earn RSPCA award

During a search of their baggage officers discovered a white powder, wrapped in green plastic, and hidden inside boxes marked rum. The powder was subsequently tested and gave a positive reaction to the field test for cocaine. The cocaine had an estimated street value of £535,000.

Chris Capel, Assistant Director of Border Force South said:

“This was a deliberate, if unsophisticated attempt to smuggle dangerous Class A drugs into the UK and I commend the Border Force officers whose work ensured that Thompson and Walcott are now behind bars.

“Illegal drugs have a significant impact on our society, being the root cause behind countless burglaries, thefts and robberies. They are also used as a commodity by organised criminals linked to violence and exploitation of the vulnerable.

“We continue to work with our colleagues from the National Crime Agency (NCA) to do all we can to stamp out this despicable trade and bring those responsible to justice.”

The case was referred to the NCA and Thompson and Walcott were charged with importation of a class A drug.

62-year-old Grantley Thompson.

On Thursday, 11 October the pair appeared at Croydon Crown Court where they admitted the smuggling attempt. Both were sentenced to six years and six months imprisonment immediately.

30-year-old Jamal Walcott.

The Government’s Serious Violence Strategy, which was launched in April, aims to combat the devastating impact drugs have on levels of serious violence.

It also highlights a strong link between drugs and serious violence and the related harm and exploitation from county lines. The Government has set out the action it will take to tackle this violent and exploitative criminal activity. The action of Border Force to stop drugs before they get into the country forms a key part of this work.

Border Force officers use hi-tech search equipment to combat immigration crime and detect banned and restricted goods that smugglers attempt to bring into the country.

Nationally, they use an array of search techniques including sniffer dogs, carbon dioxide detectors, heartbeat monitors and scanners – as well as visual searches – to find well-hidden stowaways, illegal drugs, firearms and tobacco which would otherwise end up causing harm to local people, businesses and communities.

Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or go to https://www.gov.uk/report-smuggling

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