A MOTORIST has appeared before a Carlisle court accused of transporting a 15kg consignment cocaine with an estimated street value of £1.5m.

The city’s Rickergate court heard that 39-year-old Paul May was arrested after police stopped a Peugeot car on the M6 at Todhill, north of Carlisle, on February 6.

Prosecutors allege that the drugs were found in a hidden compartment within the car’s boot, which was operated by a hydraulic arm.

The car was stopped by police because officers suspected it had a faulty light, said prosecutor George Shelley.

During a brief hearing, the defendant was told he is charged with possessing the Class A drug cocaine with intent to supply.

When asked if he would enter a plead the the possession with intent to supply allegatoin, he told magistrates he was not yet ready to answer the charge, which in the event of a conviction could lead to a jail term of more than four years, said Mr Shelley.

The prosecution case is that the drugs seized by police are likely to be linked to an organised crime group.

After hearing an outline of the allegation from Mr Shelley, magistrates said that their powers were insufficient to deal with the case and they ruled that it should instead go before a judge at Carlisle Crown Court.

The defendant, of Mill Lane, Southport, was remanded in custody and will appear before the city’s crown court for a hearing on March 4, when he is likely to be asked to enter his plea.

May was represented in court by defence lawyer Andrew Gurney.

The defendant spoke only to confirm his personal details and to say that he was not at this stage ready to enter a plea to the allegation.

After the case was adjourned, police confirmed that they have seized cocaine with an estimated street value of £1.5 million in a car which was stopped on the M6 near Todhills on February 6.

They said that the drug seizure was part of Operation Alliance, Cumbria Constabulary’s ongoing response to protect the county against serious and organised crime.