London: An Indian-origin airhostess, who worked for Air Canada, has been jailed for 8 years after she was found guilty of smuggling 250,000 pounds worth of cocaine into Britain via Heathrow.
Mandeep Shahi, 27, smuggled four kilos of the drug on board in her luggage, as it was highly unlikely Air Canada cabin crew would be subjected to random drug searches.
She breezed through customs checks after landing at Heathrow, and then headed to a hotel to deliver the goods to former public schoolboy Simon Howard-Harwood and Baljinder Nijjar, both 28.
She was caught by an undercover police operation that had been on the trail of the two men, but was only arrested on her return to Britain five months later after detectives identified her using CCTV footage.
Shahi claimed she had been an unwitting drugs mule, but a jury at Southwark Crown Court found her guilty of possession of class A drugs with intent to supply.
The two drug dealers have admitted to conspiracy to supply prohibited drugs, while minicab driver Ghulem Malik, 53, was convicted of ferrying drugs for the pair.
Giving evidence Shahi insisted that she had only packed her bag with clothes, and had no idea it contained drugs. "It was a regular day, a regular flight, a normal situation for me," the Daily Mail quoted her as telling jurors.
She wept as the judge sentenced her and her fellow drug dealers to a total of 32 years in prison.
Judge Gledhill said they took advantage of the lack of security checks on Air Canada staff as they flew into Heathrow.
"As you well knew through your cousin, and perhaps Miss Shahi, Canada is not regarded as a country that poses a great risk of prohibited drugs being brought to this country," he told Nijjar.
"The fact of the matter is, as an officer who works at Heathrow told the court, there is virtually a nil risk that flights coming into this country from Canada would be subjected to random checks of crew," he stated.
Howard-Harwood, of Waterlooville, Hampshire was jailed for nine years and Nijjar, Southall, Middlesex, was jailed for 12 years after they both admitted conspiracy to supply prohibited drugs.
Shahi, of Ontario, was cleared of the conspiracy to supply prohibited drugs along with Malik, of Southall, who was convicted of possession of class A and class C drugs, both with intent to supply. He was jailed for three years.