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#Encrochat username ‘BasilBanana’ couriered kilos of cocaine in 'Thames Water van' for crime gang


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Christopher Wood, 35, handled an estimated 23kgs of cocaine, received £449,000 cash and delivered £308,000 after being recruited into the conspiracy run by gangsters Luke Andrews and Andrew McMahon in early 2020.


He was given a heavily-encrypted EncroChat phone with the username ‘BasilBanana’, which he used to take instructions from his bosses and send back status reports, prosecutor Walton Hornsby told the crown court on Friday.


As well as making deliveries in a top-of-the range Audi, the former Thames Water contractor bought a van, to which he fitted the water board’s livery to make it easier for him to get around. Wood, using the BasilBanana EncroChat phone, sent back photographs of himself in the company’s uniform.


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The court heard he turned to the trade after falling on hard times in early 2020. He had lost his job and a business he subsequently established was failing during lockdown.

Wood was paid a ‘golden hello’ of £1,000 by the gang then promised a salary of £2,500-a-month for his part in the nationwide cocaine business.

But his barrister, David Wood, said the dad-of-six rarely received his promised salary – and his involvement in the conspiracy only lasted three months before the EncroChat network was busted by European police, gang leaders Andrews and McMahon fled the country and Wood was arrested. Andrews and McMahon remain at large, the court heard.


Honest Wood told the detectives who interviewed him: “I never owned the drugs or the money. I did it of my own free will when I was struggling financially due to lack of work and supporting six children. I am very sorry for my actions.”


 


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