A DRUGS courier who fled from police after being stopped on the M6 in Cumbria was in a car containing a consignment of cannabis worth nearly £250,000.

The drugs were found thanks to an eagle-eyed roads policing officer who had clocked the car involved as suspicious.

Homeless Hoang Khanh, 32, who was in the UK illegally, pleaded guilty to possessing the class B drug with intent to supply.

Alaric Walmsley, prosecuting, said the offence came to light at 2.30pm on November 10 last year when police stopped a black Mercedes car on the M6 at Scout Green.

“One of the police officers had recognised the car’s distinctive number plate from previous patrols on the M6,” said the barrister. “The officer was aware that the vehicle had made frequent short journeys to Scotland.

“It didn’t appear to be a commercial vehicle or taxi.”

When the car pulled over, the driver stayed in the Mercedes but the defendant flung open the passenger door and ran away. He was detained a short time later.

Mr Walmsley continued: “The vehicle was searched and police recovered 23.5kg of vacuum-wrapped cannabis, both in the boot and on the back seat.”

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The estimated street value of the drugs haul was £235,000. When interviewed, Khanh claimed he had no idea there were drugs in the car and he claimed he ran away because he had failed to check in with the authorities after his release from an earlier jail term.

The court heard that the defendant had just been released from jail for an almost identical offence in September, 2020. He had served a nine-month jail term.

The prosecutor accepted that the defendant had acted “under direction” and for limited financial gain.

Judith McCullough, defending, said Khanh had been in the UK for two years and because he was here illegally he quickly fell under the influence of people from the “criminal underworld.”

A married father of two, he wanted to return to Vietnam when released from the inevitable jail term.

“He had substantial debts in Vietnam and was unable to repay them,” said the barrister. “It was suggested to him that he came to the UK to earn money to repay his debts.”

Recorder Paul Hodgkinson said he felt there was no realistic prospect of rehabilitation and therefore no grounds for suspending the jail term. He gave Khanh a year in jail.

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