Pregnant beauty therapist, 30, sobs as she’s jailed for £1.5million cocaine haul

A pregnant beauty therapist caught with a £1.5million cocaine haul has been jailed for 10 years.

Stephanie Nelson, who owns Cheshire-based Porsche Cosmetics Ltd, was stopped by Kent Police as she drove her Hyundai car through the Dartford Tunnel river crossing on June 10 this year.

Inside a 'sophisticated and magnetised' void in the boot, officers found two black holdalls containing 15kg of the class A drug.

A court heard the 30-year-old had driven that day from her home in Wilmslow to a village pub near Maidstone, Kent, to collect the cocaine.

Nelson was making the return trip north when police swooped after observing the handover just 20 minutes earlier.

Tom Nicholson, prosecuting, said the boot initially appeared empty, with the void underneath becoming magnetised when the engine was switched on and the glove compartment opened.

But the 83% pure cocaine, embossed with the words 'Premium 20/20', was soon located.

Nelson, whose private clinic offers non-surgical cosmetic procedures, was also in possession of a BQ Aquaris encrypted phone described as 'highly sophisticated and virtually impossible' to crack.

Maidstone Crown Court was told on Wednesday that the same Hyundai had been seen driving to Folkestone and waiting in a car park on several occasions leading up to her arrest.

The former nursing degree student sobbed in the dock having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.

As well as now being five months' pregnant, Nelson was said to be the sole carer for her seven-year-old son.

Her barrister told the court she was the victim of a controlling and physically abusive ex-partner, who had 'persuaded her to collect something' on his behalf.

Christopher Martin, defending, said she neither looked in the bags nor knew what they contained.

"It is no exaggeration to say she was and remains scared of her ex-boyfriend," he added.

But passing sentence, Judge Philip Statman said there was 'very little evidence of recent pressure or coercion'.

He told Nelson she had embarked on 'a deliberate course of conduct for financial gain' which had to be marked by a substantial prison sentence despite the profound impact on both her son and unborn child.

Judge Statman said: "Believe me when I say it is no easy task for any judge to separate a mother from a child, or indeed sentence on the basis that you will spend the remaining months of your pregnancy and the first years of your unborn child's life when it is born detained in custody.

"I appreciate that has a profound effect both on your unborn child and also on you."

Judge Statman, who described Nelson as a 'highly intelligent and good, caring mother', was told her son will now be cared for by his grandmother.

He also asked that she be allowed to complete her pregnancy 'in the best possible way' and able to remain with her baby 'as long as the prison authorities allow'.

Also appearing in court via prison TV link was her co-defendant John Markham.

He had handed over the cocaine to her in the car park of The Yeoman pub in Bearsted.

The 53-year-old from Enfield, Middlesex, also admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and was also jailed for 10 years.

The suggestion he was paid just £106 for the drop-off to Nelson was disputed by the judge however, who said 'rich-pickings' awaited all those involved.

He told both defendants: "Individuals such as you need to perform the critical role in ensuring the safe passage of drugs from the coast, through county lines and to the northern part of England.

"Individuals such as you must be highly trusted because the value of this load was vast.

"Cocaine is a highly addictive and pernicious drug. It brings with it misery and degradation to its users.

"The drugs market, if I may say so, is probably as we speak the most powerful, illicit market in the world at the present time.

"Each of you were trusted and no conspiracy of this kind could function without your effective role."

Markham was also found with a similar Aquaris phone.

"They are highly sophisticated, encrypted handsets which contained Dutch SIM cards making it impossible to get into and to get call data from," said Mr Nicholson.

"It is considered extremely unlikely that it will be possible to get any data from these phones."

The court heard however that despite her fear of her former partner, Nelson was prepared to assist police by giving them the password.

Mr Nicholson said police watched as Nelson pulled into the pub car park just before 6.30pm on June 10, and walked over to Markham's small, white van to speak to him.

"He opened the rear door, removed a black holdall, and gave it to Nelson who placed it in her vehicle," he told the court.

"Markham gave her a second holdall and she placed it in the rear (of her car) and then left.

"About 20 minutes later the Hyundai was stopped in the Dartford Tunnel by Kent Police and Nelson was arrested."

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