A LYME Regis pensioner who admitted trying to smuggle £168,000 worth of cannabis through Portsmouth ferry port has been jailed.

Robert Ian Coulson, 71, was sentenced to three years and nine months in jail at Portsmouth Crown Court today.

It was earlier heard that Coulson, of Anning Road, Lyme Regis was stopped and arrested by officials at the port, who found 30 kilos of the Class B drug.

He was returning from a trip to Morocco on November 3 last year and was stopped at 6.30am after arriving on the ferry from Caen.

The court heard that when his car was stopped and searched on his arrival at Portsmouth, Coulson told officers he spends three months of the winter in Morocco because of his arthritis and was returning to the UK for a medical appointment.

Shortly afterwards Border Agency officers found a quantity of powder hidden inside four tyre inner tubes in the car’s spare wheel compartment.

This was tested and found to be cannabis.

When asked what the powder was, Coulson said: “It’s hash.”

During an interview under caution Coulson admitted that the cannabis had been bought on credit in Morocco and that he intended to sell it in the UK.

The UK Border Agency initially reported that the drugs were worth approximately £64,000, although further investigation valued the haul at £168,000.

At an earlier hearing at Portsmouth Magistrates Court on January 4, Coulson pleaded guilty to being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of duty on prohibited goods.

Tim Fleming, from Border Force, said: “This is another example of our officers being one step ahead of the game when it comes to protecting our border from drugs and other prohibited items.

“Coulson gambled that he would evade our controls but has ended up paying the price with the sentence handed down by the court today.

“We are determined to prevent the drugs trade which can have such a destructive impact on the lives of so many.”

Anyone who has information on suspected smuggling or immigration offences can visit http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/contact/report-crime/ or call the Border Force hotline on 0800 59 5000.

The Border Force is a law enforcement command within the Home Office responsible for protecting the UK border.