England news May 15, 2009

Lewis insists innocence over cocaine charges

Cricinfo staff

The former England allrounder, Chris Lewis, has insisted in court that he is innocent of knowingly smuggling cocaine into the country after being given cans of fruit juice to carry onto a flight from St Lucia.

Lewis, 41, was arrested at Gatwick in December last year, after customs officials found cans of fruit juice in which cocaine had been dissolved. He was stopped along with a friend, Chad Kirnon, a former basketball player for London Towers, arriving back from holiday in St Lucia. Lewis said that Kirnon had later offered to take the blame in return from £100,000 from Lewis.

The total value of the haul is estimated at £140,000, yet while Lewis told the jury he smoked cannabis while in St Lucia, he said he was "completely innocent" of knowingly smuggling in drugs to the country.

He told the jury that Kirnon had asked him to carry the tins of fruit as he was concerned his luggage might be overweight. "I don't necessarily believe that Mr Kirnon wanted me to get caught, but if you infer by Mr Kirnon giving me the cans that he set me up then yes," Lewis said. "Generally throughout my life, my cricket career, when things have gone wrong its gone wrong in a very public way."

Lewis is currently in High Down prison where he revealed he is now the anti-bullying representative, as well as working as his block's race-equality rep. "It's a simple one: either you did it and you knew or you didn't," he said. Lewis added that Kirnon, who is also at High Down, had approached him in prison and asked him for £100,000 in exchange for taking the blame.

"Until that point it was a simple case," he said. "You had given me the juice, just say so, story's over. Now he's trying to get a bit of cash out of me."

The case continues.