A couple, identified as 22-year-old passenger Craig Nicholls and 21-year-old driver Lauren Woodward, both residents of Cardiff, were intercepted by police while traveling from Liverpool to south Wales.
During the stop on July 27, near the Coldra Roundabout in Newport at approximately 5:10 pm, law enforcement officers discovered six blocks of heroin with an estimated value of up to £60,000 concealed within a hidden compartment located in the car’s footwell.
The pair, who are parents to a two-year-old daughter, had made the journey to Liverpool the previous day and were returning home after spending the night there.
During a sentencing hearing at Newport Crown Court on Tuesday, it was revealed that police had removed the carpet in the passenger footwell and utilized a crowbar to access the concealed compartment, ultimately discovering two carrier bags containing the illicit substances.
The initial carrier bag was found to contain two heroin blocks, while the second bag held four heroin blocks. Each block weighed approximately half a kilogram and had an estimated street value ranging from £7,500 to £10,000. In total, the seized drugs had a street value between £31,500 and £60,000. Notably, the vehicle they were traveling in did not belong to them; Woodward had requested to borrow the specially adapted car for the journey and had insured herself on it. Subsequently, both defendants were apprehended. Woodward provided a prepared statement in which she denied any wrongdoing, and both individuals later declined to answer questions during their interviews.
Nicholls, residing at Marcross Road, Ely, and Woodward, residing at Grand Avenue, Ely, both entered guilty pleas for possession with intent to supply a class A drug. The court was informed that Nicholls had seven prior convictions, including offenses related to common assault, possession of an offensive weapon, and driving violations. On the other hand, Woodward had maintained a clean record.
During mitigation, Christopher Evans argued that there was no evidence suggesting his client stood to gain significantly from this single journey. He explained that the defendant had recently left his job as a roofer, and his mother’s significant health issues had caused him considerable emotional turmoil, leading him to agree to undertake the journey on behalf of others. Nicholls, who shares a child with his co-defendant, expressed a desire to prioritize his parental responsibilities.
Rebecca Griffiths, representing Woodward, argued that her client’s “limited awareness” of the trip to Liverpool as being involved in a drug-related activity did not assign her a significant role, emphasizing that Woodward had no expectation of financial gain. Griffiths further pointed out that the defendant had to bid farewell to her young daughter in anticipation of a potential prison sentence and urged the court to consider the impact such a situation would have on the child.
In addressing Nicholls, Recorder Victoria Hillier stated, “You were given the bags, you must have had some awareness and understanding of the scale of the operation.”
She subsequently sentenced Nicholls to a total of four years in prison and postponed Woodward’s sentencing until Wednesday.