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John Skingley was jailed for 17 years today after being caught with £15million worth of cocaine.
The court was told how the Durham-based trader, 65, who also operates as ‘Lord of the Manor’ at his 36,000-acre estate in County Durham, was allegedly caught carrying 2.5kg of the drug.
His wife Ann, 68, and daughter Donna, 47, were also arrested and charged with possessing cocaine for supply.
The court heard the alleged drugs haul was part of £15 million worth of drugs brought into the UK by the Skingleys in the past year.
Prosecutor Hilary Merchant told Teesside Crown Court how Skingley’s inner circle smuggled the cocaine to the UK.
She said: “Skingley is very active in the North East of England.
“He is a ‘big fish’ in his part of the world.”
The court heard how police officers found the drugs hidden in hatchback back seat in the Skingleys’ BMW Z4.
The cocaine was allegedly hidden inside a case of sponge balls – the same kind used for cleaning cats – which were hidden in the compartment under the glove box.
Police also discovered a suitcase full of cash allegedly hidden under a mattress at their home.
In total the family is believed to have smuggled more than £15 million worth of cocaine into the UK.
On Wednesday, the Skingleys were all charged at Teesside Magistrates Court.
Mrs Merchant added: “The defendants are all charged with conspiring to supply cocaine.
“John Skingley is charged with four counts of possessing the cocaine with intent to supply and one count of the supply of cocaine.
“Donna Skingley is charged with four counts of possessing the cocaine with intent to supply.
“Ann Skingley is charged with three counts of possessing the cocaine with intent to supply.”
The court heard how the drugs was allegedly heading to customers in Australia.
“These defendants have a long history of involvement with
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