Pilot David Lloyd 'part of drug smuggling team'

Image caption,
The drugs were seized when a plane landed at Mona Airfield on Anglesey

A former RAF pilot from Anglesey is one of four men to go on trial accused of conspiring to smuggle cocaine worth £3.5m into Britain.

The drugs were seized when a plane landed at Mona Airfield on Anglesey in July 2009.

David Lloyd, 65, flew the plane but says he did not know drugs were on board.

Three other men also deny conspiracy to smuggle cocaine. The case at Liverpool Crown Court continues.

The trial heard that the drugs were carried in a single engine four-seater plane owned by David Watson, 54, from Prestwich, Manchester.

Michael Taylor, opening the case for the prosecution, said the drugs were picked up in France by former soldier Mathew Lockwood, 29, from Prestwich, who has already pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to import the drugs.

Also involved in the plot were Richard McArthur, 45, from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, and Paul Roche, 55, from Prestwich, the court heard.

Mr Taylor told the jury that when the smuggling took place, Mr Watson was in the USA but that he "was in control of the operation".

"Mona is near to where Lloyd lives and David Watson's private plane was kept in a hangar there," he said.

"There was a flying club there. Lloyd was a very experienced pilot. He was formerly a pilot with the RAF and was a trainer at the flying club."

Mr Roche and Mr Lockwood were also on the flight, the court heard.

Blocks of cocaine

When it touched down in France, Mr Lockwood went to pick up the drugs from Mr McArthur.

However, the court heard, it is Mr McArthur's case that he did not know the package contained cocaine.

He claims he was told it was cannabis and was acting as a courier.

The same three men then flew back to Mona airfield where the plane was searched by police and the cocaine was found.

Mr Taylor said blocks of cocaine were found neatly packed in the base of a pilot's bag, which Mr Lockwood was using.

Other blocks of cocaine were found stashed in a pillow case and one was found lying loose in the plane, the court heard.

Mr Taylor said: "The focus of the trial is likely to be whether the four defendants on trial were members of a cocaine smuggling team.

"The fact that it was a team effort is unlikely to be disputed. It's obvious it was."

The trial is expected to take between four and six weeks.