Portsmouth Wren's partner 'imported cocaine'

HMS Manchester - Royal Navy
Image caption HMS Manchester had been involved in counter-narcotics training

The boyfriend of a Royal Navy Wren who used a warship to bring cocaine into the UK was also involved in the drug smuggling operation, a court has heard.

Raul Beia, 39, is on trial with Dean Langley, 20, at Portsmouth Crown Court.

The pair, from London, are charged with importing drugs after cocaine was found in Teresa Matos's locker last August when HMS Manchester docked in Plymouth.

It was enroute to Portsmouth when the 19lb (8.5kg) stash was found. Matos, from Gateshead, has admitted smuggling.

The ship was returning to its base in Hampshire following a seven-month deployment across the Atlantic and South Pacific.

Counter-narcotics training

Andrew Oldland, prosecuting, said: "These were not, as you might have expected, the proceeds of a successful anti-smuggling exercise.

"The drugs had been smuggled on board by a Wren."

The Type 42 destroyer had spent time in Cape Verde for counter-narcotics training with the islands' coastguard and had also visited America, the Falkland Islands, Brazil and Colombia.

The jury heard that 36-year-old Matos, an Angolan-born steward from Contsworth Court, pleaded guilty to smuggling at a previous hearing.

She picked up the drugs when HMS Manchester was docked in the Colombian port of Cartagena, in South America, last July, jurors were told.

Matos is due to be sentenced when the trial is over. Abdul Banda, 34, of Ashbourne Road, Ealing, is also due to be sentenced after the trial.

'Controlling minds'

Mr Beia and Mr Langley were arrested with Banda at Portsmouth's Ibis Hotel, the jury was told.

Mr Oldland said the men had bought plastic containers, clingfilm and scales from Argos and Poundland for the drugs.

He said that Mr Beia, of Clapham, and Banda were the "controlling minds" behind the operation, that Matos was the courier and that Mr Langley, of Fulham, was recruited to receive and distribute the drugs.

Mr Oldham also told the jury that the use of a Royal Navy ship to smuggle drugs was an example of the "determination and ingenuity" of those in the international drugs trade.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday.

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