Social Worker Jailed Over Drug Plot

A Poulner social worker involved in a £300,000 cocaine trafficking plot has been jailed for nine years. Curtis Martin, 42, who worked as a live-in mentor to youngsters with behavioural problems, was arrested by police as he picked up a two-kilogramme parcel of cocaine hidden in cat food.

Martin and his associates bought the drugs from a Spanish criminal and planned to deliver them to dealers in Guildford, Surrey.

Police swooped on the gang as they were clinching the drug deal in a central London restaurant.

Martin, of Southampton Road, Poulner, near Ringwood, was jailed along with fellow gang members Scott Hedges, 34, of Acton, west London; 43-yearold Richard Hill, of Stockwell, south-west London; Michael Holland, 66, of West Wickham, Kent and 30-year-old Nick Chapman, of Guildford, Surrey.

The traffickers were jailed for a total of 41 years by Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court.

Diabetic Martin, who carried out social work contracts in Cambridgeshire, claimed that he was tempted by the promise of a £1,000 cut of the profits after ill-health forced him to take four months off work.

Judge Ian Karsten QC told him: “You are a man who has worked as a residential social worker doing a socially useful job but you got involved as a courier for what seemed like easy money.

“I have to do what I can to deter people from succumbing to the lure of such easy money.”

Martin shook his head as he was led from the dock.

Hill and plumber Hedges also received nine years each after they were convicted of the conspiracy last month.

Organiser Chapman, an aspiring cage fighter and fitness enthusiast, admitted arranging the deal with a Spanish underworld contact and was jailed for eight years.

Father-of-three Holland said that he turned to crime to keep at bay a gang of thugs who were demanding he repay a huge debt inherited from a friend. He was jailed for six years.

The court heard how the men were snared by an undercover police operation after exchanging £52,000 cash for the drugs at Goya, a tapas restaurant in Victoria, central London, on December 15 last year.

Martin, Hedges and Hill were convicted of one count of conspiracy to supply cocaine on or before December 15, last year.

Chapman and Holland each admitted the same charge.