Accused tells court: I hate drugs

2007-12-04 00:00

An alleged international drug smuggler from the United Kingdom, John Tutton (57), declared his hatred for “drugs of all types” during his testimony before a regional court magistrate at Camperdown yesterday.

Tutton testified that he did not even know what cannabis or cocaine looked like until recently and said he is “famous” among his friends and family, in both the UK and in South Africa, for his hatred of drugs.

He said he planned to make South Africa his home as he had “fallen in love” with this country. He said he had been working here as an “agent” for British businessman Robert Flook, but denied any knowledge of cannabis or cocaine concealed in shipments of mirrors and furniture to the UK.

The state alleges that Tutton, and his two co-accused Tommy McKinnon (35) and Ernest Smith (59), worked with Flook to smuggle cocaine and cannabis from SA to Britain concealed in secret compartments in crates containing furniture or mirrors.

Flook was recently convicted of drug-related charges in the UK.

Under cross examination by state advocate Gert Nel yesterday, Tutton agreed that the effect of his evidence is that he was a victim of an “elaborate conspiracy” for which he suspects Flook was responsible.

Tutton testified that at the time of his arrest last October, he was intent on cutting his business ties with Flook.

Explaining his possession of a fake driver’s licence in the name of a lifelong friend, Ron Rust (who died in 2001), Tutton said he was in trouble with the law in the UK for drinking and driving and his licence was suspended. He claimed that Flook offered to assist him and asked for two passport-sized photographs. Tutton said he was “a little shocked” when Flook produced the fake licence bearing his, Tutton’s, photograph and said he had never used it.

He admitted that Flook used Rust’s name in various business dealings, and that Tutton on at least two occasions falsely signed documents in Rust’s name.

Tutton gave explanations for his possession of numerous other documents and exhibits that have been introduced as evidence in the court case.

Tutton said that when he heard that a consignment of furniture sent to the UK had been impounded by the authorities at Felixstowe harbour for “containing contraband”, he questioned Flook, who told him there was “nothing to worry about”.

Flook subsequently told him that customs had found tobacco in some table legs, he said.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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