A Plymouth cab driver who was caught with a quarter of a kilo of cocaine in his vehicle has been cleared of knowingly trafficking the drug.
Abdaul Alboghobaish, aged 61, was acquitted after a six-week trial which followed the collapse of the first hearing last November.
Alboghobaish told a jury he had no idea the package he was asked to transport was filled with cocaine.
Addressing the court, Alboghobaish said he was given the package by a man in Coventry to deliver to an address in Plymouth.
He also denied that several journeys made to London, where he stayed for a few hours, were to pick up cocaine or heroin.
Plymouth Live first reported that prosecutors claimed Alboghobaish brought drugs back to Plymouth for suspected gang leader Nathaniel Freeman.
Alboghobaish said although Freeman was a regular customer, on this occasion of travelling to Coventry, the trip was arranged by a man called Antonio, who was not present in the court.
Alboghobaish is one of eight people facing a jury as part of an alleged plot to bring cocaine and heroin to Plymouth from London and the West Midlands – and in one case Jamaica.
Alboghobaish was stopped by police on 18 October 2017, while driving along the M5 near Exeter.
Police had been tracking his journeys over a period of a few months using mobile phone contacts with nearby masts and Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras.
When challenged about three trips that were tracked to London, the defendant said he could not recall two of the journeys, saying he often took fares to London or went to visit a friend.
The other journey to London was to take co-defendant Jordane Morris, who he picked up from her home in Holsworthy, Alboghobaish claimed.
He added Jordane stayed at a house which he dropped her at for an hour while he waited. He said he then took her back home.
Jordane Morris is accused of taking a two-week holiday in Jamaica to smuggle back another quarter kilo batch of cocaine back to Britain in August to September 2017.
Freeman, 33, known to be the drug gang’s leader, allegedly organised the trip to Jamaica.
Alboghobaish was not being accused of being involved in any smuggling efforts.
His barrister Ali Rafati asked him: “Did you have any idea that the package contained drugs of any kind?”
Alboghobaish replied: “No.”
Fellow defendants Matthew Hitchman-Alexander, aged 23, and 22-year-old Akiel Thomas, have also been acquitted at Plymouth Crown Court.
Image: Source; Geograph
Image: Author; N Chadwick