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Man's anger over drugs planted in granddaughter's bag

TRAUMA: Mark Courtney says stress led him to having two heart attacks

A GRANDFATHER who was wrongly accused of drug smuggling says he may seek legal action against the immigration officials who dealt with him.

Mark Courtney, 51, from north London said he spent months wondering whether he would be jailed for a crime he did not commit before being told there would be no charges.

However, he said the emotional scars of his ordeal were such that he is now a heavy drinker and claimed that his experience led to him having two heart attacks and nearly suffering a third after being stopped by customs officials at Gatwick Airport last December who found 16 kg of marijuana in his five-year-old grand daughter’s suitcase.

“Lawyers have advised me that I’m entitled to a pay out” said Courtney “but it won’t make up for my trauma. It’s about justice. I couldn’t think straight for three months because I was waiting for them to tell me whether I was going to be rearrested.”

Courtney and his granddaughter were returning to Britain from Montego Bay in Jamaica, after being forced to cut short a trip to his sister’s wedding because his daughter was ill.


He said he was shocked and distressed when officials told him they had found drugs in his granddaughter’s suitcase.

“I not only had to leave Jamaica early to attend to my daughter who was seriously ill but on the way to provide her with moral support, I was falsely accused of smuggling drugs. What I experienced was indescribable,” he said.

“I don’t know who put them in my suitcase but I do know that I was a victim of a scam. It’s obvious that I have been set up,”

He was also upset that his parents were dragged into the saga.

“They (immigration officials) treated us like criminals and my elderly parents, who were waiting outside for over an hour in the taxi, were also arrested but later released. It was horrific.”

Courtney received a letter from the UK Border Agency on March 26, telling him “that no further action would be taken.” However he is not content to let the matter rest there.

“I’m not happy that the police now have my fingerprints and DNA,” he said.
However a UK Border Agency spokesperson told The Voice that they were simply following standard procedure.

“Mr Courtney was arrested because a large quantity of cannabis was discovered in the luggage of a child who was a member of his travelling party. It was necessary to hold him for a period of time so our officers could establish the facts of the case.

“The case was dealt with in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, and Mr Courtney was later bailed pending further enquiries.”

The spokesperson added “Following a full investigation, it was decided that there should be no further action taken against Mr Courtney.

We have yet to receive a formal complaint regarding his case. However, the UK Border Agency takes all complaints seriously, and our complaints procedure is published on our website.”

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