A deported Lithuanian criminal smuggled himself back into the UK with drones to drop drugs to inmates in prison.
Tomas Natalevicius, 35, breached security at The Mount prison in Bovingdon, and at Pentonville in London using the remote-controlled flying machines.
In July 2013 he had been jailed for five years for his part in stealing millions of pounds worth of cars, and was described as the right hand man of the Lithuanian gang leader. He was deported halfway through his sentence.
But on Friday, Luton Crown Court heard how the 35-year-old smuggled himself back into the UK, and between August and October last year flew drones over the two jails.
Natalevicius, of no fixed address, and fellow Lithuanian Dalius Zilinskas, 33, of Grange Road, London, appeared for sentencing having pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply Class A and Class B drugs.
Natalevicius admitted conveying a prohibited item into Pentonville. In addition he appeared for sentencing for attempted theft and handling stolen goods after he was caught driving a stolen BMW.
Prosecutor Philip Levy said: "The authorities became aware of an attempt to land drugs at the Mount through a drone. The defendants were traced to a car in a nearby field and a prison cell was searched."
The prison officers could see the glare of a computer screen which was switched off as they approached. A drone controller and a battery pack were recovered.
Cells at the prison were put in lockdown and 173g of cannabis and 4.89g of cocaine were recovered from the drop, which happened at 2am on October 16 last year.
In August a drone controlled by Natalevicius crashed at Pentonville jail. No items were recovered from it and it was not clear if a contraband delivery had already been made.
Mr Levy continued: "This was dealing drugs to people who themselves will deal in a prison context. Natalevicius had already been deported once for previous convictions.
"In these cases drones are sent very close to prisoners' windows at the dead of night, avoiding lights. It involves a considerable quantity of skill.
"These are expensive pieces of equipment and their use is causing all sorts of problems in prisons."
Sasha Queffurus, for Natalevicius, said he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
She said he had returned to the UK to see better medical treatment for a condition that was not revealed in open court. While here illegally he could not get legitimate work and was doing odd jobs and leafleting.
She said he was getting drugs for flying the drone but was not the brains behind the operation.
For Ziliniskas, Stephen Cooke said his level of responsibility was less. Mr Cooke said: "He was a carpenter earning good money, but got involved in drugs. Things spiralled down.”
He added that Natalevicius had played a significant role while Ziliniskas, who had recently been released from prison for theft offences, had a lesser role under instruction.
He said deportation papers have already been served on his client.
Natalevicius was jailed for a total of 7 years 8 months, and Ziliniskas for a total of 32 months.
Both will be deported halfway through their sentences.
Thanks for stopping by. We welcome your comments.