£2m drugs haul is found after ‘pheasant’ crash

A pheasant
A pheasant
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Police found nearly £2m worth of amphetamines after a van driver crashed trying to avoid a pheasant on the M1.

The drugs were allegedly disguised among empty boxes of household goods in the back of a VW Caddy driven by Brendan Kinlan.

Kinlan’s van was travelling southbound last October when it crashed off the central reservation on the M1 near East Ardsley, a jury heard.

A witness to the smash, who spoke to Kinlan, 42, afterwards, told the court: “He said to me ‘I was trying to swerve to miss a pheasant’.”

The jury heard that although shaken and unharmed Kinlan was seen on a mobile phone soon after the crash, he didn’t phone the emergency services but was asking people who had stopped to speak to his “boss” and explain he been in an accident. Leeds Crown Court heard that the as yet undiscovered illegal cargo of 181 shrink wrapped packages, disguised among empty boxes of Christmas decorations, pots and pans and a vacuum cleaner in the back of the van, were transported to a recovery yard in Ossett.

Jason Pitter, prosecuting, said while he was driving in the recovery truck Kinlan was heard talking on the phone, saying there would be a delay “in delivering the pots and pans”.

The prosecutor said he asked staff on several occasions if he could get his stuff out of the van. Kinlan’s persistence aroused the suspicions of garage staff into taking a look. Mr Pitter said: “What was discovered in the back of the van was not household items but boxes of shrink-wrapped packages that contained a white or cream substance.

“The van and its contents were therefore seized by the police. The van was found to contain 181 packages, all containing amphetamine with a total weight of 174kg. That would be a highly prized commodity as it would have a value of sale on the street of £1.7m.”

Kinlan, originally of Co Wicklow, Ireland, was arrested on October 27 and interviewed but said the drugs had nothing to do with him. Kinlan has pleaded not guilty to possession of controlled drugs with intent to supply.

The trial continues.