Man denies ‘dragging’ friends into drugs

2007-12-05 00:00

British citizen John Tutton (57) has denied that he “dragged” his two co-accused into international drug dealing activities and that he controlled the South African side of the operation.

Tutton was under cross examination by state advocate Gert Nel yesterday before Camperdown regional magistrate Fred Heuer.

Nel suggested that he should “redeem” himself by coming clean and putting the true facts before the court, suggesting that he [Tutton] “dragged” his co-accused, Ernest Smith (60) and possibly Tommy McKinnon (35) into his drug dealing venture. Tutton responded: “I have not dragged anyone into anything … it is not in my nature to be a drug dealer”.

Tutton, McKinnon and Smith — who resided in Ballito and Umhlanga Rocks respectively at the time of their arrest — are charged with dealing in 8,1 tons of compressed dagga seized by British authorities at Felixstowe harbour in the UK on September 10 last year, as well as dealing in 150 kg of cocaine seized in a warehouse at Tongaat at the same time that Tutton and McKinnon were arrested on October 4 last year.

Tutton has claimed he was unaware of drugs allegedly being smuggled in consignments of furniture and mirrors between South Africa and the UK, and that he simply acted as an “agent”, sourcing goods for export from South Africa on behalf of UK businessman Robert “Bob” Flook.

Part of the state’s cross examination yesterday focused Tutton and Flook’s false use in their business operations of the name of Tutton’s former best friend, Ronald Rust, and Tutton’s possession of a fake driving licence in Rust’s name.

Tutton admitted in his testimony that he was at Rust’s bedside when he died in 2001 and that he had been a pallbearer at Rust’s funeral.

Tutton said Flook obtained the fake licence for him because Tutton’s licence was suspended.

Tutton testified that Flook had later explained to him that he was using Rust’s name to “front” his business operations as a ploy to avoid paying income tax, and he had gone along with it.

The case is proceeding

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