London

Drug smuggler Goldie Coats loses appeal

A woman who claims she was coerced into smuggling cocaine because she suffered from battered woman syndrome has lost an appeal against her conviction.

Goldie Coats, 28, from south-east London, said her violent former boyfriend, Chesham Walters, forced her to bring the drugs back from Jamaica.

She told the Court of Appeal Walters used to attack her nearly every day and she was "petrified" of him.

But Lady Justice Hallett described Coats as an "acknowledged liar".

She said the hearing panel did not find her evidence credible.

'Can't escape'

Coats, a mother of two, was convicted in 2008 and was jailed for 10 years.

She told the appeal judges Walters had "trapped" her in the relationship.

"It's like being in a secure van and you want to escape, but you can't escape," she said.

Coats told the court that on one occasion he grabbed her around the throat, threw her across the kitchen and set a dog on her.

At another time he allegedly beat her with a belt and spat on her. Coats also told the court he put a carpet cutter to her throat.

Asked why she did not report Walters - who has been jailed for life for murder - to police rather than carry the drugs, she replied: "He petrifies me. Jail doesn't petrify me. He does."

But Lady Justice Hallett ruled: "We see none of the characteristics one would expect to see on finding that she was suffering from BWS [battered woman syndrome]."

She added that although Coats may have suffered violence at the hands of Walters, there was "not a hint" that she was in a state of "helplessness".

No evidence

Coats told the court she had lied during her trial in 2008 when she claimed she did not know she was carrying drugs.

The defendant, and another man, had been stopped at Heathrow in October 2007 with luggage containing 1.26kg (2.7lbs) of cocaine with a street value of £64,000.

Her case was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates possible miscarriages of justice.

The Crown had opposed the appeal arguing that there was no evidence that Coats had BWS at the time of the offence and that she could not be believed.

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said it was thought to be one of the first times that a drugs conviction has been challenged on the grounds of battered woman syndrome.

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