via UK: Drug dealer dives into river in cop chase – NewZimbabwe 20 April 2015
A SPEEDING driver being chased by police who abandoned his car where cops later found cocaine, leapt into Bristol’s River Frome and had to be rescued has been jailed for 16 months.
Simbaiashe Monhlani sped off when officers tried to stop him, before losing control of the hired VW Golf and running off, Bristol Crown Court heard.
Police found him in the river, clinging on to a large branch and grappling with his trousers, and they threw him a line and hauled him out. He later denied intending to deal a lump of crack cocaine found in the car.
Monhlani, 27, of Jiggins Lane in Birmingham, denied possessing a Class A drug with intent to supply in July 2013. He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and possessing 3.1g of Class B drug cannabis.
A jury of six men and six women found him guilty of simply possessing the crack cocaine.
Judge Euan Ambrose told him: “The driving was very dangerous and very fast through residential streets on a summer’s evening.”
The judge banned him from driving for two years and ordered him to pass an extended driving test.
He told him to pay £490 costs and ordered the destruction of drugs seized.
Alistair Haggerty, prosecuting, said on the night of St Paul’s Carnival PC Dean Ward was in a police car in Barton Hill and his attention was drawn to a VW Golf containing four men.
Haggerty told the jury: “The vehicle sped away from him.
“He activated his siren and blue lights to stop it. The driver was Mr Monhlani and he made no effort to pull over.”
The court heard Monhlani drove at 45mph through a 30mph zone before overtaking a vehicle on a blind right-hand bend.
He then accelerated up to 60mph, went on the wrong side of the road and lost control.
Haggerty said: “He stopped at Napier Road, near the Ikea store which is near the M32.
“Mr Monhlani and the front seat passenger ran.
“The front seat passenger was arrested and the back seat passengers were arrested.”
Monhlani was seen to jump over a fence and into the River Frome, where he submerged before re-appearing.
Haggerty told the court: “He was attempting to use a branch to clamber out.
“He was messing around with the waistband of his trousers. He continued fidgeting underwater.
“Police units arrived, and the fire brigade, and they helped Mr Monhlani from the river.”
PC Richard Friend arrested the soggy suspect and found £240 in bank notes in his back pocket.
Police searched the VW Golf and found £385 in bank notes as well as immigration papers in Monhlani’s name.
They also found a 11.32g lump of 26 per cent pure crack cocaine – said to be enough for 56 0.2g deals – and a further £250 cash, the jury heard.
Monhlani denied intending to supply drugs and denied cash in the car was his.
In a second interview he said he was a cocaine user who had come to Bristol for carnival and the cocaine was just for him.
Monhlani told the court he was born in Zimbabwe and came to the UK in April, 2000, where a threat of deportation was continually postponed.
He confirmed he wasn’t able to work or get a National Insurance number.
He said: “I get money from criminal activity. I had £240 in my back pocket and £250 worth of drugs.
“I get money from shoplifting. I’m just the driver, I make sure we could get away.
“My friend would sell stolen goods straight away and we would split everything equally making, on a good day, £400.”
Monhlani couldn’t recall how much cocaine he had taken that day, which was his first visit to Bristol.
But he shed light on why police saw him fiddling with his waistband in the river.
He said: “My trousers kept falling. The string was loose. I had to keep pulling up my trousers every few seconds.
“I was clinging on to a branch and they threw a rope down to me.”