Man jailed over botched drugs plot has prison sentence increased

An Ilkley man caged for his part in a £160 million cocaine smuggling plot has had his jail term nearly doubled after senior judges said it was far too soft.

James Andrew Hill, of Hampshire Close, Ben Rhydding, now faces 11 years behind bars for his involvement in the enormous conspiracy.

The Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC, successfully attacked his original six-year sentence as 'unduly lenient'. The 31-year-old was jailed at Leeds Crown Court on September 18 last year after being convicted of the smuggling plot.

Lord Justice Treacy told London's Appeal Court that the conspiracy involved 1,025 kilograms of high-purity cocaine.

The Makayabella yacht which had travelled from Venezuela to the Irish coast was intercepted by the Irish navy in September 2014. There were 41 packages of the class A drug inside the vessel, with a street value of £160 million.

Lawyers for the Solicitor General argued Hill's sentence gave 'insufficient weight' to the public menace posed by hard drugs.

Hill's legal team agreed his sentence was 'low' but argued that it was not 'so much out of the ordinary' to justify an increase.

Lord Justice Treacy said it was 'clearly a sophisticated conspiracy' and that Hill was 'motivated by financial advantage to himself'.

We consider a significant increase in his sentence is called for to reflect the massive quantity of drugs involved. We consider that the least sentence which should have been imposed was one of 11 years.

– Lord Justice Treacy