Pregnant woman hid £1,500,000 worth of pure cocaine in secret boot compartment

Pregnant Stephanie Nelson, 30, pictured, was caught with £1.5 million worth of cocaine (Picture: National Crime Agency)
Pregnant Stephanie Nelson, 30, pictured, was caught with £1.5 million worth of cocaine (Picture: National Crime Agency)

A pregnant beauty therapist caught with high purity cocaine with a ‘wholesale’ value of £1,500,000 has been jailed for 10 years.

Stephanie Nelson, 30, 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 Nelson had driven that day from her home in Westbourne Drive, Wilmslow, to a village pub near Maidstone, Kent, to collect the cocaine.

Nelson was making the return trip north when police swooped in 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.

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But the 83 per cent pure cocaine, embossed with the words ‘Premium 20/20’, was soon located.

FERRARI PRESS AGENCY: Pregnant Stephanie Nelson, 30, pictured, was caught with ?1.5 million worth of cocaine in the Dartford Tunnel, Kent, having travelled from Cheshire to collect it. She has been jailed. See Ferrari copy. Picture: National Crime Agency
She is five months pregnant (Picture: National Crime Agency)

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.

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As well as being five months’ pregnant, the brunette 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.

He added: ‘It is no exaggeration to say she was and remains scared of her ex-boyfriend.’

FERRARI PRESS AGENCY: John Markham, 53, pictured, has been jailed for handing ?1.5 million worth of cocaine to pregnant Stephanie Nelson in Dartford, Kent. See Ferrari copy. Picture: National Crime Agency
John Markham, 53, pictured, has been jailed for handing the drugs (Picture: National Crime Agency)

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

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, he said.

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He continued: ‘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.

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‘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’.

Nelson was said to have set up her aesthetics practice in February last year after completing two years of her medical degree.

FERRARI PRESS AGENCY: Pregnant Stephanie Nelson, 30, was caught with ?1.5 million worth of cocaine in the Dartford Tunnel, Kent, having travelled from Cheshire to collect it. She has been jailed. Picture shows blocks of the cocaine seized. See Ferrari copy. Picture: National Crime Agency
Nelson was found to have 15kg of cocaine in her boot (Picture: National Crime

Mr Martin said she was from a ‘good, law-abiding’ family and now engaged to be married.

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 Ashford Road, Bearsted.

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

A proceeds of crime hearing will be held in December.

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