Drugs gang head Laurence Kilby jailed for cocaine smuggling
A "privileged" racing driver has been jailed with 11 other drug smugglers.
Laurence Kilby, 40, of Cheltenham, who built and raced cars, was arrested after police seized cocaine with a street value of £1m.
Bristol Crown Court heard he was head of a gang moving drugs from Eastern Europe along the M4 corridor to London, western England and south Wales.
Kilby was heavily in debt and turned to crime to maintain his lifestyle of fast cars and high living.
Raids on properties
Kilby was jailed in June but his conviction, and those of the rest of the gang, can now be reported following the conclusion of another trial.
In an undercover operation between Gloucestershire and Avon and Somerset Police, officers seized 3kg of cocaine as it was being ferried between London and Cheltenham in October 2010.
Another 1kg of the drug was intercepted in Cheltenham in February 2011 and 2.5kg was discovered in raids on properties in Cheltenham, Staverton, Bristol and London in July 2011.
The gang of 12 drug dealers from Gloucestershire, Bristol and London received sentences of between 18 years and four years seven months.
It can now be reported Kilby, who was jailed in June, and Vladan Vujovic, 43, of Grange Road, London were found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. Both were jailed for 18 years.
Richard Jones, 42, of Bradley Stoke, Bristol, was sentenced to 15 years for the same offence, and Mark Poole, 47, from Portishead, was sentenced to nine years seven months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Police said Kilby sourced the drug in London from an East European criminal gang, which included Vujovic.
Vujovic ran a baggage handling company at Heathrow Airport and was said to receive the cocaine before it was distributed around the South West and Wales.
Kilby is the former husband of Flora Vestey, daughter of Lord Vestey, and was owner of motor racing firm Ajec Racing which was based in Staverton.
He was heavily in debt and turned to crime to maintain his lifestyle of fast cars and high living.
In a separate charge, Kilby also pleaded guilty to stealing money from the charity Help for Heroes and was sentenced to 10 months, to run concurrently with his 18-year sentence.
He organised a charity race day at Gloucestershire Airport in July 2010, but failed to pass on between £3,500 and £4,000 in proceeds to the charity Help for Heroes.
Det Insp Steve Bean, from Gloucestershire Police, said Kilby was the main man.
"He portrayed himself as a well-connected socialite and businessman, whilst indulging his ambition as a minor league racing driver.
"Despite a privileged background, the reality was that his lifestyle was funded by the ill-gotten gains of drug dealing.
"He continually lied and blamed others in an attempt to distance himself from the conspiracy.
"He displayed an air of arrogance and thought he could get away with it because he didn't get his hands dirty."
The majority of the gang were jailed in June, but reporting restrictions meant it could not be reported until now, after the sentencing of the remaining gang members.
Others members of the gang to be sentenced were:
- David Chapman, 29, from Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply and was sentenced to nine years.
- William Garnier, 31, from Cheltenham, pleaded guilty to supplying Class A drugs and was sentenced six years and eight months.
- Garry Burrell, 46, from Easton, Bristol, and John Tomlin, 28, from Newtown, Gloucestershire both pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and were sentenced to six years and six months and four years and six months respectively.
- Timothy Taylor, 40, from Bristol was found guilty of supplying Class A drugs and was sentenced to four years and seven months.
- Brian Barrett, 48, from Keynsham was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was sentenced to 10 years.
- Scott Everest, 39, from Clevedon was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was jailed for seven years.
Jonathan Tanner, 45, from Warminster was sentenced to 18 months for possession with intent to supply of cannabis, but was cleared of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Darren Weetch, 38, from Bristol, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply. He was sentenced to 16 months.
Officers also worked with Thames Valley Police and the Metropolitan Police during the operation.