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Couple get over 11 years for smuggling £1.2 million cocaine in handbags through Gatwick

A couple who attempted to smuggle almost 12 kilos of cocaine hidden in the linings of handbags have been jailed for a total of 11 years and five months following a National Crime Agency investigation.

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Italian national Davide Fasano, 31, from East Dulwich and his 25 year-old Spanish girlfriend Tania Michelle Cedeno-Piguave, arrived into the UK on a flight from the Caribbean island of Aruba with £1.2 million worth of the Class A drug.

They were sentenced at the Old Bailey today (Friday, 30 November). Both pleaded guilty to the importation of a controlled drug at a hearing on Monday, 26 November.3

Davide Fasano

Fasano was sentenced to six years and nine months imprisonment. Cedeno-Piguave was sentenced to four years and eight months.

The pair were stopped at Gatwick Airport by Border Force officers on 6 July, 2018, after they arrived from Aruba, where they had been on a week-long holiday.

Tania Michelle Cedeno-Piguave

A sniffer dog indicated there was something inside Fasano’s suitcase. A search by officers revealed only a small amount of clothing but five new handbags inside. The cocaine was hidden inside a false bottom of the suitcase and the linings of the handbags.

They were then both arrested and cautioned by Border Force officers on suspicion of being involved in the importation of a controlled drug.

When subsequently questioned by NCA investigators, both denied any knowledge of the drugs hidden in the luggage.

Fasano claimed he had found the suitcase at a bus stop outside the hotel in Aruba. He said he took it for his girlfriend Cedeno-Piguave as hers had ‘broken’.

When Fasano was asked by investigators why the suitcase was at a bus stop, he couldn’t give an explanation. He then said: “I’m not stupid, I wouldn’t travel 10,000 km carrying cocaine”.

Both were charged and remanded in custody.

Further enquiries by NCA officers revealed thousands of Whatsapp messages written in English, Spanish and Italian. Amongst the messages investigators found a conversation relating to Fasano paying Cedeno-Piguave £3,000 to accompany him to Aruba, and Cedeno-Piguave stating that it “would be dangerous”.

Steve McIntyre, NCA Branch Commander, Heathrow and Gatwick, said:

“The importation of Class A drugs such as cocaine, fuel further crime and violence which cause misery and exploitation of others.

“Fasano and Cedeno-Piguave were reckless in attempting to smuggle drugs into the UK.

“Working with our Border Force colleagues we will target anyone who tries to undermine the security of the UK border by smuggling illegal drugs and protect the public from the inevitable harm this causes.”

Tim Kingsberry, Director of Border Force South, said:

“This is another excellent example of Border Force officers preventing a substantial quantity of drugs, with an estimated street level value of around £1.2 million from ending up on the streets of the UK, where they cause significant harm to both individuals and communities.

“Working with our colleagues at the National Crime Agency (NCA) we are determined to do all we can to stop drug traffickers and ensure that those who involve themselves in this activity face the full consequences of their crimes.”

Crime

Teenager found guilty of murdering Arnold Potter named

A teenager who stabbed and killed a man in Maidenbower, Crawley has been found guilty of murder.

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Kai Gasson, 17, unemployed, from Crawley, admitted using a lock knife to wound the torso of Arnold Potter; however, he claimed he did so in self-defence.

Reporting restrictions were lifted to allow him to be named.

The 24-year-old victim sought help from a number of residents following the incident in Watson Close, Maidenbower, around 6.40pm on Thursday, November 15.

Shortly afterwards, he was found collapsed in the street. Despite the best efforts of paramedics and members of the public who commenced CPR, he was sadly declared dead at 7.17pm.

Gasson had chased Arnold (pictured above) up the street following the attack, but then made off from the scene and spent the night at a friend’s house, where he confessed to his crime and was encouraged to hand himself in to police the next day.

Man is stabbed to death in Maidenbower.

He was charged with murder and was remanded in custody ahead of a two-week trial which concluded at Lewes Crown Court on Thursday, April 18 where a jury found him guilty of murder.

It is alleged that in the events leading up to the attack, the defendant had been approached in the street by Arnold, who is reported to have held a knife to his throat and threatened to rob him of his drugs.

In response to this, Gasson withdrew a knife from his bag and used it to stab Arnold.

Following a search of his house, the defendant was further arrested and charged with possession of an offensive weapon (a knife). The jury also found him guilty of this offence as well as possession with intent to supply a class A drug (cocaine).

Photo: A replica of the knife used by Gasson

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Richardson, who led the investigation, said: “Kai Gasson has been found guilty of the murder of Arnold Potter and rightly so now faces a minimum of 15 years behind bars.

“The jury has rejected his claim that he acted in self-defence and agreed with the prosecution that he murdered Arnold Potter.

“Gasson was also been found guilty of possession of a knife and pleading guilty to possession with intent to supply cocaine.

“Knife crime hasn’t just affected the two individuals involved; it has also affected their families, friends and the wider community and my thoughts our especially with Arnold’s family at this time.

“The key element to this tragic incident is the possession of a knife in a public place, which is an extremely serious offence.

“Had Gasson not been in possession of a knife that day, he would not have stabbed anyone and he would not now be facing a sentence.

“The devastation caused by knife crime is well documented, and Sussex Police – like every other force in the UK – will not tolerate it.

“We must continue to educate people – particularly young people – that carrying offensive weapons in public is a serious offence which ruins lives. It is a common misconception that some people feel safer in possession with a knife. This cannot be further from the truth; carrying a knife makes you far more likely to be involved in a crime, whether you are the victim or the offender.

“Our message is simple: lose the knife, not your life.”

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