Cannabis courier was stopped on M6 during Covid pandemic

And Ricky Edward Harvey, now aged 43, received his inevitable jail term at the city’s crown court today (Tuesday) from a judge who heard the defendant’s illegal activity spanned 18 months.

Bradford-based Harvey was stopped while behind the wheel of a speeding Ford Focus on the motorway, northbound, near Carlisle on December 29, 2020, while strict tier Covid restrictions were in force.

“A police constable noticed a faint smell of cannabis and that his detainee had a burner phone,” said prosecutor Andrew Evans. “Upon searching the boot he found two black bags which he correctly identified as cannabis.

"Subsequent analysis placing the cumulative weight of drug at 2.238 kilos across what transpired to be six different bags.

“Upon arrest the defendant was tearful and stated ‘I’m going to prison for this’. On the drive to the police station he said: ‘I was only going to hand it over to a guy in Carlisle. I just needed the money because I have taken on my mum’s mortgage’.”

Analysis of phone and road camera data showed Harvey had made 11 criminal courier trips up the M6.

He later revealed a cocaine addiction and debt which he agreed to offset at £300 a time by helping to supply cannabis and associated cash.

Most journeys from Merseyside were money runs with the small number of others involving cannabis at no more than 2kg per journey.

“The defendant was solely trusted to convey multiple consignments of drugs worth at least £8,000 per load if not substantially more, and cash consignments of similar value. He was trusted to perform this role over and over again,” said Mr Evans.

Harvey admitted being concerned in the supply of cannabis, and possessing it with intent to supply. The court heard he was dismissed from the Armed Forces for drug possession during a 2004 court martial.

Mark Shepherd, mitigating, said the defendant’s life had spiralled downwards following the death of his mother and grandmother.

“He sought to self-medicate with cocaine. He found prescription medication wasn’t doing what it should be doing.”

It had been a “clearly entrenched” addiction although Harvey, latterly of Bradford and previously of Rosewarne Close, Liverpool, spoke of being clean for the past 12 months.

“He has been a prison in his own mind for the last three years,” said Mr Shepherd.

Judge Nicholas Barker accepted there was a strong body of mitigation and highlighted the lengthy delay in Harvey being brought to court.

But he concluded immediate punishment could only be achieved with an immediate 18-month jail sentence.

“You had a clear awareness and understanding of the scale of the operation,” Judge Barker told Harvey. “Each of these journeys, you knew, would have put you in jeopardy of custody.”