Pregnant Dalton ex-soldier jailed for trying to smuggle drug
Last updated at 16:32, Wednesday, 09 January 2013
A PREGNANT former soldier from Dalton has been jailed for four years after trying to smuggle more than £170,000 of heroin into the country.
Naomi Thriepland, 25, of Ann Street, was stopped in a black BMW convertible by officials in France on December 5, 2011 while trying to re-enter the UK.
She told Border Force officers that she had travelled to France with her then seven-year-old daughter Aiesha to visit Disneyland in Paris.
But a search of the vehicle at the checkpoint in Coquelles revealed 3.44 kilograms of heroin hidden in the hood compartment of the car’s boot.
The former Ulverston Victoria High School student was charged and pleaded guilty on October 22, 2012 to one count of breaking the prohibition on drug importation.
Despite denying she had made previous drug runs to the continent, she admitted to making a “dummy run” a month earlier.
Canterbury Crown Court heard Thriepland was paid £8,000 to drive to Amsterdam and collect the heroin and 12 kilograms of cutting agents caffeine and paracetamol.
In sentencing her on Monday, Judge Heather Norton slammed Thriepland, who is 16 weeks pregnant, for using her young daughter in the operation.
“You made that trip in order to plan the drug smuggling run – and you did what you did for financial gain,” she said.
“More than that, you took your seven-year-old child with you as some kind of family cover, putting that child at risk.
“You claim you became a courier to give her a better life, but that child is now likely to suffer more than you.
“You have served this country with a number of tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and in perilous positions; so whatever else can be said about you, this was certainly out of character.”
Thriepland joined the army after leaving school and served for six years as an administrative clerk with the medical corps in Iraq and bomb disposal unit in Afghanistan.
She told the Evening Mail upon returning home in January 2010 how difficult it had been to leave her daughter for extended periods during her deployments.
“It was good (to be back) because I had not seen Aiesha for quite a while,” she said.
“It is very difficult because she doesn’t like it when I have to go away.”
Thriepland rose to national attention in the lead up to Christmas 2009 when she made an emotional appearance on GMTV live from Afghanistan via satellite and spoke to Aiesha.
“I miss you, Aiesha,” she said. “I wish I was there with you now.”
Thriepland’s mother Fiona, who looked after Aiesha while her daughter was on duty, was an active supporter of the Help for Heroes charity.
Mrs Thriepland, 53, raised more than £600 for the organisation, which assists members of the armed forces, during a fundraiser in Barrow in April 2010.
She said of her daughter then: “I’m proud of her, she’s very special.”
Defence counsel Christopher Baur told the court his client had not acted out of “malice or wickedness, but rather stupidity and with an element of greed”.
“She clearly did not think through the dangers or the harmful effects on potential users of the drugs.
“She wasn’t involved in putting the drugs into the car. The car was taken away when she was at a hotel in Amsterdam.
“She didn’t actually see what was in the car. She said that she did this because she wanted to better her situation, in particular for her child, and the irony is not lost on her.”
Mr Baur said Thriepland was devastated at the prospect of again being separated from her daughter, as well as having to give birth to her second child while in prison. “The child is now living with an aunt,” he said.
“She ( Thriepland) is in a long-term relationship with the child’s father, who sits in court. She will now give birth to her child in prison.
“The situation she finds herself in dire because she wasn’t coerced into it, but neither was she a major player in the enterprise. She was quite naive. She did it to better conditions for her child.”
An Ann Street resident told the Evening Mail yesterday that she was shocked to learn of Thriepland’s jailing and felt sorry for the daughter.
Malcolm Bragg, from Border Force, said drug trafficking was a serious offence and those convicted faced lengthy prison sentences.
“Our message to those who would consider it is that it’s just not worth it,” he said.
“Border Force officers will continue to work diligently to keep our border secure and to make life as tough as possible for those who seek to profit from this evil trade.”
First published at 16:08, Wednesday, 09 January 2013
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
Have your say
well done the security services and well done to the judge for not being taken in by the convenient pregnancy.. I feel sorry for her children
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