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Coke-smuggling granny jailed for eight years

Cunning garden gnome plan goes awry

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Continuing our occasional series "When Blue Rinses Go Bad", we have the sorry tale of a South African grandmother who has just been banged up in New Zealand for a cool eight-and-a-half years for "trying to smuggle cocaine hidden in garden gnomes".

The 52-year-old wannabe Scarface, Linda Martin, was served the porridge at Auckland High Court, South Africa's IOL reports, as a result of being caught with in excess of three kilos of charlie at Auckland Airport in 2004. The Peruvian Red Bull was hidden inside four garden gnomes in Martin's suitcase.

At her February trial, Martin claimed she'd been "duped by a Nigerian drug gang", and that "her family was being threatened by a Nigerian drug lord called Peter, who wanted her daughter Lindy to work for him".

Defence laywer Barry Hart said Martin "did not know what was in the suitcase and had never been on an aeroplane before", describing her as an unsophisticated woman who had allegedly agreed to act as mule for a "paltry" US$450.

At the sentencing hearing last Tuesday, Justice John Priestly agreed that Martin was naive, but said "she still knew she was dealing with drug traffickers". Taking into account "her co-operation with customs and police, her health problems, and her lack of previous convictions", he then jailed her for eight-and-a-half years. ®

Bootnote

Thanks to granny-watching reader Hal for grassing up this gnome-bearing ne'er-do-well.

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