Norfolk

Herbie Hide jailed for conspiracy to supply cocaine

  • 29 November 2013
  • From the section Norfolk
Herbie Hide
Image caption Herbie Hide admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine after The Sun on Sunday secretly filmed him setting up a drug deal

Former world champion boxer Herbie Hide has been jailed for 22 months after admitting selling cocaine.

Hide, 42, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine last month after he was filmed by undercover Sun on Sunday reporters setting up a drug deal.

Judge Mark Lucraft told Cambridge Crown Court he had reduced the sentence partly because of the "sting element".

Ben Sharman, 22, of Howe Lane, Poringland, Norfolk, was also jailed for 20 months for drugs offences.

Sharman admitted conspiracy to supply the Class A drug, two counts of offering to supply drugs and an unrelated burglary.

Hide, of Bawburgh, near Norwich, held the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) version of the heavyweight title between 1994 and 1999.

He had initially denied conspiracy to supply cocaine, but changed his plea at Norwich Crown Court last month.

He has previous convictions including criminal damage, battery, threatening behaviour and carrying a knife.

During the sentencing hearing, defence lawyers questioned the use of "entrapment" tactics to target Hide.

But in a statement, The Sun said Hide's sentence was a "successful conclusion to a legitimate investigation".

"No one compelled Mr Hide to supply drugs, it was of his own free will, and he pleaded guilty to the offence.

"There can be no doubt that our investigation was in the public interest," it said.

Martin Budworth, mitigating for Hide, said Sun reporter Mazher Mahmood and his assistant had pursued his client "relentlessly" despite his attempts to remove himself from the encounter.

Image caption Herbie Hide was WBO champion twice between 1994 and 1999

'Learning difficulties'

"I hesitate to say this, but it is a case of Jekyll and Hyde," said Mr Budworth.

"Far from his public persona, he is a shy man and a vulnerable man and was ripe for the picking by experienced and professional men like Mr Mahmood," he said.

"If anybody instigated this offence, it was Mr Mahmood and his assistant," he added.

A friend of Hide described him in a statement read to court as a "pubescent boy in a grown man's body".

'An isolated incident'

Prosecutor Chris Youell described how Mr Mahmood, dubbed the Fake Sheikh because of his technique of acting as a wealthy Arab, originally targeted Hide as part of an investigation into fight fixing.

"Mr Mahmood was effectively a customer being sold drugs for money," he said.

"It was an isolated incident which would not have happened had Mr Mahmood not enticed Mr Hide into doing something illegal."

Hide met Mr Mahmood, in his sheikh disguise, at the Sprowston Manor Hotel, near Norwich, in January.

Recording equipment had been set up in the room, the court heard.

Mr Youell said Mr Mahmood talked of a lack of good quality cocaine in the Norwich area, but Hide offered to get some.

He arranged for Sharman to obtain four grams of cocaine worth £400 which he then handed over to the reporter.

When tested, the drugs were found to contain 0.1498 grams of pure cocaine, the court heard.

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