An unwitting woman found herself acting as a drugs mule for a Latvian man living in Guernsey, after she was caught delivering what she thought was a new speaker which actually contained thousands of pounds worth of illegal anabolic steroids, and would unravel as one of the 'biggest cases of steroid importation in years'.
Andris Noviks, 28, asked the woman - who was the sister of a friend of his, and also a Latvian national - to bring the sub-woofer to him when she travelled back to the island last June.
But she didn't know that Noviks had actually arranged to have a bulk delivery of class C drugs made to him, all concealed within the boxed-up speaker. Customs Officers found the drugs during a search of the woman's van when it arrived in Guernsey on the 8 June 2018, and yesterday, Noviks was sentenced to four years and one month in prison by the Royal Court for attempting to import them. He had pleaded guilty to all of the charges he faced.
The drugs were put inside the speaker, which was then filled with expanding foam, and screwed back up. At Noviks' request, the box was made to look 'unopened'. File image of subwoofer-like speakers.
Customs came across the drugs after x-raying the box which had the speaker inside. In total, 70g of stanzozol, 196.3g of testosterone, 342g of trembolone and no less than 3,861 tablets of methandrosteolone were found concealed within the sub-woofer, hidden behind expanding foam.
The investigation traced back to Noviks after the woman was arrested and interviewed. The link was made by her brother, who was Noviks' friend, and initially suspected it may have involved him when he heard about what had happened.
Two days after her arrest, on 10 June, the woman's brother asked Noviks to drive them both to his step-father's home, and while he was on his way, asked his step-father to call the police. Soon after they were arrived, they were both arrested, and Noviks was found to have small vials of steroids on him then as well. There were also multiple phones found in his car.
The woman and her brother were both dropped from the investigation, as it was evidenced they had no involvement, and had also helped the investigation as best they could.
Noviks was charged with four counts of attempting to import Class C drugs, and three counts of possession.
During police interviews, Noviks initially denied any knowledge of the drugs, but text messages on his mobile phones detailed a conversation he had had with a resident of Latvia about having the drugs sent to him. Noviks was seen to have instructed the man on how to conceal the drugs, which the Deputy Bailiff Richard McMahon, who was presiding over the case, said showed the level of sophistication of this attempted import.
While they are all only Class C, the drugs were found to have had a Guernsey street value of at least £4,000, although this was not a precise calculation as many of the substances were not commonplace on the island.
A body builder, Noviks told the court he had first come across performance enhancing drugs when he started going to the gym in Latvia - everyone used them, he said. He first started using them in Guernsey though, after a conversation with another in a local gym.
His advocate Sam Steel said in mitigation that Noviks now saw the error of his ways there, and going forward, wanted to train as a personal trainer, without using steroids.
When officers searched the defendant's property after his arrest, they found a number of both used and new hypodermic needles.
When sentencing, Deputy Bailiff McMahon said he and the Jurats considered count four to be the most serious of the importation charges - the 3,400 odd tablets.
"The sheer number of tablets involved suggests to us that this was not just a private venture for your own gain," he said.
"The way in which you orchestrated this, using innocents who got caught up in the investigation, was in our view carefully calculated to deflect attention away from yourself, and was callous."
Crown Advocate Dunford added during his outline that this was the largest importation case of Class C drugs for many years.
Les Nicolles prison, where the defendant has been for the last five months, and will now be staying for many more.
In total, Noviks received four years for the fourth charge, and two for the first three, both of which will be served concurrently. He also received one month for the possession charges, to be served following the four years. So in total, he will be in Les Nicolles for four years and one month, which will date back to 7 December 2018, when he was first remanded in custody.
The Court was also asked to consider the possibility of deporting Noviks. He has resided in Guernsey for 10 years now, which his advocate, Sam Steel, said had meant all of his adult friends and connections were in the island. A probation report looking into Noviks offending found he was unlikely to commit any new crimes, and that he only had a history of violence following alcohol consumption. While he did not have much family in the island, the Court decided he had the possibility of adding to the Guernsey community, as he was proven to be a hard worker, with employment in the construction sector. Noviks has also reportedly been a 'model prisoner' since he was put on remand.
On this basis, they did not recommend him for deportation.
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