A DRUGS courier caught red-handed on the M6 in Cumbria as he transported high-purity cocaine has been stripped of the £22,000 he was carrying.

Christopher McLaughlan, 31, who was jailed for his offending, also had a lock-knife and a hammer in the vehicle. He was put back before Carlisle Crown Court for a hearing under Proceeds of Crime legislation.

The court heard that the defendant has now signed an agreement to abandon any claim on the suspicious cash found in his car.

During the latest hearing, Judge Michael Fanning ruled that the defendant had benefitted from his drugs offending to the tune of £33,877, though only the cash he was caught with was available for seizure.

An earlier hearing was told that McLaughlan, from Brewery Street, Dumfries, was stopped near Tebay as he drove his Skoda Superb car on December 14 last year.

When questioned by the police, he provided an explanation that the money was a “pay-out” from a former employer and said that he planned to use it to buy a camper van.

But his explanations when questioned further were  “vague and unconvincing,” the court heard. The total amount of cash seized was £22,640.

As the officers began to search the defendant’s car, he was heard to mutter something about cocaine, and an amount of that class A drug was found in the vehicle.

In total, inside the car there was 35g of 76 per cent pure cocaine. The defendant’s criminal record comprised of ten previous offences, including a firearms offence and a malicious communications offence.

The judge said there would have been a 12-months jail default period in the event of non-payment but Cumbria in fact currently hold the cash.