Barber’s plot to smuggle cocaine, MDMA and ketamine to Majorca stag do foiled at airport

Alexander Birch leaving Manchester Crown having avoided am immediate jail sentence (Image: MEN MEDIA)

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A barber who tried to smuggle a £1,000 stash of drugs onto a Majorca stag do narrowly avoided jail.

Alexander Birch stashed dozens of MDMA pills in his own luggage and put packages of cocaine and and ketamine in a pal's bag.

However the 27-year-old was hauled off his flight shortly before it was due to take off from Manchester Airport after the drugs were discovered, reports the Manchester Evening News.

He appeared before judge at Manchester Crown Court on Monday who decided against sending him straight to prison however he was handed an extended curfew to "essentially lock him up in his home."

Birch, from Hyde, Tameside, was with 17 other men as part of the stag party who were booked onto an early flight from Manchester to Palma in Majorca on Friday June 7 last year.

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Birch intended on sharing the £1,000 stash with his friends, the court was told
(Image: MEN MEDIA)

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However another member of the party was found to have two cling film wrapped packages in his hand luggage.

That man said they didn't belong to him and that Birch had put them there the court was told.

Birch was escorted from the plane and accepted responsibility to police saying he had them in his pocket before placing them in the other man's bag in the departure lounge.

These packages were found to contain just over 17 grams of cocaine and just over six and a half grams of ketamine.

Drugs were also found in Birch's own luggage.

In his suitcase was a Lynx shower gel bottle and an x-ray scan found 33 tablets inside,Verity Quaite, prosecuting said.

Manchester Crown Court heard Birch had no previous offending on his record
(Image: MEN Media)

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These were later found to be the party drug MDMA, also known as ecstasy.

There were also 48 'snap bags' and a set of scales in bag the court was told.

Birch said he had bought all the drugs however the plan was to divide them amongst roughly 10 people in the group who would pay him the cost price for their share.

He told officers he was "concerned what he might get" if he had tried to purchase the drugs abroad Ms Quaite added.

She said prosecutors agreed with experts that this was "not a commercial enterprise" but "essentially social supply amongst friends."

The man on whom the drugs were originally found was given a police caution.

Birch pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at the magistrates court to three counts of being concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a prohibition on the importation of a controlled drug, two counts of possession with intent to supply a Class A drug, and one count of possession with intent to supply a Class B drug.

Mark Fireman, defending, said at the time of the offence Birch, who lives with his mother and who has no previous convictions, was "in the grip of an addiction" which saw him spending around £200 a week on drugs.

He said: "Since the commission of this offence he has not been in any further trouble with the authorities and has taken steps himself to significantly reduce his drug intake.

"He seeks help from the probation service to hopefully get that to nothing."

He said Birch last year opened his own barbers' shop in Stalybridge which was turning a profit being ordered to close during the two coronavirus lockdowns.

Judge Nicholas Clarke QC said trying to smuggle the drugs into another country was "outrageous behaviour" and a "significant aggravating factor" in the case.

"Spanish people deserve better than us sending drug-fuelled stag parties who are sharing drugs amongst them" he said.

"Not only is it disrespectful to them it is also outside the law.

"This was a £1,000 worth of drugs you have accepted you were going to sell to your confederates.

"You essentially became an international drug smuggler for the benefit of the entire party.

"This was carefully planned and was a deliberate attempt to take drugs abroad. You had made plans to conceal them.

"This was not something that was done on a whim.

The group was on a stag weekend to Majorca (stock photo)
(Image: Getty Images/Westend61)

"There is powerful mitigation – your age, your lack of previous convictions and the delay in this case.

"You are working, you employ others as part of that.

"We are also in the middle of a Covid pandemic that means the situation in jail is much worse than it normally would be."

The judge said he was persuaded he could suspend Birch's 12 month jail term, for a total of 18 months.

However he imposed a six month electronically monitored curfew between the hours of 8pm and 7am.

"That is a long time," Recorder Clarke said.

"That means no parties, no socialising with your friends, no Christmas or New Year parties.

"You are going to be deprived of your liberty between those hours."

He also told Birch to "stop taking these drugs which are an expensive waste of your money."

He was also ordered to pay £425 in costs.

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