A HIGH-PAID oil worker was forced to store drugs for international dealers after a road smash in Thailand left him with crippling hospital bills.
David Watson, of Wadsley Square, Sunderland, took in shipments of methadrone and similar illegal highs, with a street value of more than £70,000, to pay off money lenders who were using threats to get their cash back.
Newcastle Crown Court was told the 37-year-old had been forced to borrow money when a serious road accident, which cost him his arm, meant he could no longer continue his high-paid work in the oilfields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
He used the loans to meet mounting medical bills in Thailand, where he had been enjoying a luxury break before the accident happened.
Watson was jailed for four years and three months.
Judge John Evans told him: “You lent yourself to the supply of class B drugs which, but for the intervention of the police would not doubt have been distributed within this country, that had undoubtedly come from abroad.
“You knew they had come from abroad, given the way they ended up on your doorstep.”
The court heard police found a kilo of methadrone, along with 4,269 diazepam tablets when his home was raided in March 2012.
A further two-and-half kilos, plus 6,903 tablets of similar illegal substances were found during a second raid that November.
The court heard the drugs had been sent to Watson’s home via legitimate courier firms.
The dealers would have then picked them up for onward distribution on the streets.
Katherine Dunn, defending, said Watson, who went on the run abroad after his second arrest before coming back to the UK, still struggles with his injuries.
Miss Dunn said: “He was arrested the first time and the drugs were seized.
“He was released on bail and initially the lenders did not contact him.
“He was aware he still owed them the money, then the debt increased because of the fact the drugs had been seized by the police and taken from him.
“He felt under pressure to continue to take in these parcels.”
The court heard, with the help of family and friends, Watson has managed to pay back what he owes and is no longer indebted to the dealers.
Watson admitted possession of Class B drugs with intent to supply.
He also admitted possession of the diazepam, which he used for pain relief and a charge of absconding.