England news May 11, 2009

Lewis smuggled '3kg of cocaine' in fruit cans

Cricinfo staff

The trial has begun for Chris Lewis, the former England allrounder, who is accused of smuggling more than 3kg of cocaine from St Lucia, with a street value of more than £140,000.

Lewis, 41, was arrested last December after a routine inspection of an early-morning flight from St Lucia by customs officials. He was later remanded in custody, and today, appearing at East Croydon Crown Court, the court learned that Lewis and a friend, Chad Kirnon, were found with cans of tinned fruit in their possession.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Tom Wilkins said that both men had travelled to St Lucia to visit friends and family. "The question is, did they know that they were bringing in cocaine? They had come from St Lucia together and flown out there together. They knew one another and, the Crown says, they were acting together."

He added: "It wasn't fruit juice the tins contained, it was a brown liquid with cocaine dissolved into it."

At the time of his arrest, when he was told the tins contained drugs, he replied: "Is there some mistake?" Police also seized a silver cannabis grinder which contained traces of the drug. When Lewis's luggage was inspected, his Puma cricket bag was found to be labelled with Kirnon's name, Wilkins told the court.

This was "the first of a number of links between these two defendants and what they were, together, up to," Wilkins added. The trial continues.