Brendan Kinlan who was caught with £1.7 million of amphetamine when he crashed on the motorway
A hapless crook has been jailed for eight years after a court heard how his £1.7million amphetamine stash was discovered in his van after he had crashed it on the motorway to avoid hitting a pheasant.
Brendan Kinlan, from Middlesbrough, had 174kg of the class B drug in the back of a VW Caddy van disguised among empty boxes of household goods such as a toaster and pots and pans.
The drug was later found inside the vehicle by police whose suspicions were aroused by Kinlan's keenness to have the van returned. Its return had been delayed by a details discrepancy.
A jury took less than an hour to find him guilty of possessing controlled drugs with an intent to supply.
The three-day trial heard how the 42-year-old was heading south on the M1 near Wakefield, West Yorkshire, when his vehicle span out of control and hit the central reservation before spinning back across the road and ending up on the hard shoulder.
Despite the small white van being badly smashed on October 24 last year, Kinlan walked away unharmed.
Leeds Crown Court heard that Kinlan told an off-duty postman, who stopped at the scene of the crash, and a paramedic, that he was trying to swerve to miss a pheasant.
Following the accident Kinlan, originally from County Wicklow, Ireland, but living in Middlesbrough at the time of the offence, was left with a vehicle that he couldn't drive and unable to continue with his delivery of 'a massive consignment of controlled drugs'.
Jason Pitter, prosecuting, said: 'The accident triggered an unforeseen, unplanned for chain of events that would eventually lead to the uncovering of this criminal operation.'
The drugs haul police found after Kinlan crashed on the M1 near Wakefield
Sentencing Kinlan on Monday, Judge Sally Cahill QC said: 'It was of course because of the accident you have been found out.
'I'm quite satisfied there were others involved but you had very substantial links to those who were behind these drugs.
'I am quite satisfied you knew and knew from the outset what you were doing.'
When police came to the crash scene and took Kinlan's details they realised they didn't match the details for the van - this would prove a problem for him in the coming days as he tried to get his cargo from the vehicle.
The van was towed to a garage in Ossett, West Yorkshire a business used by the police to recover and store vehicles in their compound.
Once there, Kinlan continually asked if he could get his property, which he described as pots and pans, but wasn't allowed because of the discrepancy in details.
The VW Caddy van Brendan Kinlan tried so hard to recover after it was taken to a compound
During the trial the court heard it was ultimately Kinlan's persistence to get the drugs out of the back of the vehicle that led to garage staff becoming suspicious and discovering the stash.
Mr Pitter said: 'What was discovered in the back of the van was not household items but boxes of shrink-wrapped packages that contained a white or cream substance.
'The van and its contents were therefore seized by the police. The van was found to contain 181 packages all containing amphetamine with a total weight of 174kg.
'That would be a highly prized commodity as it would have a value of sale on the street of £1.7m. That would perhaps explain the the persistence and determination of the
Later, CCTV footage at the garage showed Kinlan making two night-time trips to the compound. On the second, he and an unnamed man, were seen driving up in a silver Renault Megane, stopping and jumping into the dark, closed yard to snoop around.
Following the discovery of the drugs Kinlan was arrested at in his home in
Middlesbrough on October 27 and interviewed but denied knowing anything about them.
He told the jury that he thought he was delivering leaflets in the van provided to him by a man called 'Mohammed' he met at a local shop.
He claimed his heart dropped in his chest when he received a phone call telling him the VW Caddy van he was driving was filled with drugs and said he had received threats - including a visit to his cell from an 'Asian guy' who told him he'd better pay for the stuff' and that he 'owed for 200 kilos'.
David James, mitigating, said: 'This will be a significant and trying period of imprisonment he will have to serve in the UK.'
The court heard that he has previous convictions for violence, assault and threatening behaviour, some of which he has been imprisoned for.
After the case, Det Chief Insp Warren Stevenson, of West Yorkshire Police's Crime Division, said: 'While he may have been caught under fortunate circumstances for us, there is nothing fortunate about the sentence he has received and we are glad to see him behind bars for this serious offence.
'Even if the massive amount of drugs Kinlan was transporting were not meant for the streets of West Yorkshire, we have prevented a huge amount of amphetamine from affecting the lives of potentially tens of thousands of people.'