Cricket: Former England star Chris "The Prat Without a Hat" Lewis is jailed

Former England cricket star Chris Lewis has been jailed for 13 years for trying to smuggle 3.37 kilograms of liquid cocaine, with a street value of about £140,000, into the United Kingdom.

Lewis played 32 Tests and and 53 ODIs for England between 1990 and 1998 and has played for Leicestershire (twice), Surrey (twice) and Nottinghamshire. He signed for Surrey to play in their Twenty20 side (the Brown Caps) just last year.

Lewis told Croydon Crown Court in south London that he had been asked to carry five tins of fruit juice by a friend, the professional basketball player Chad Kirnon.

The tins contained 100 per cent pure cocaine in liquid form.

Lewis obviously isn't the cleverest of people. In 1994, The Sun newspaper (which has a way with words) called him "THE PRAT WITHOUT A HAT" after he was forced off the field with sunstroke having shaved his head and not worn any protection, before the first match of England’s tour of the West Indies.

He even once alledged that three England team-mates had taken bribes to throw matches, a claim that was never substantiated. This left him to be the target of boos by crowds during matches.

Ex-England cricketer Chris Lewis found guilty of cocaine smuggling

From Times Online
May 20, 2009

Chris Lewis signed for Surrey Brown Caps last year

The former England cricketer Chris Lewis was jailed for 13 years today for smuggling cocaine into Britain in his kit bag.

Lewis, 41, who represented England in 32 Tests and 53 one day internationals, was caught when he returned from the Caribbean island of St Lucia last December.

After the case customs officers warned that organised gangs could attempt to recruit other sports stars as drugs mules in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics.

Lewis told Croydon Crown Court he had been asked to carry five tins of fruit juice by a friend, the professional basketball player Chad Kirnon.

When the men were stopped by Customs officers to Gatwick Airport they were each discovered to be carrying tins containing 100 per cent pure cocaine in liquid form.

Lewis, of Brent, northwest London, said he was “shocked” when Customs officers informed him that cans had tested positive for cocaine and asked: “Could there be some mistake?”

Recounting his arrest, Lewis said: “That’s when my mind went a little bit into overdrive. It went into overdrive because of the pickle I was in and the consequence of that - the furore.”

Lewis had played for Nottinghamshire, Surrey and Leicestershire but claimed he had been driven out of country cricket after making unsubstantiated allegations that three England team-mates had taken bribes to throw matches.

He came out of an eight-year retirement last summer to to play Twenty 20 matches for Surrey but the comeback lasted only two matches.

He admitted buying and smoking cannabis while on holiday St Lucia but insisted he was “completely innocent” of the charge of knowingly smuggling drugs.

Both Lewis and Kirnon, 27, accused the other of asking him carry some of the tins because their luggage was overweight.

Lewis told the court that while they were awaiting trial at High Down prison in Surrey, Kirnon had asked him for £100,000 in exchange for taking all the blame.

Kirnon, of Islington, North London, claimed that Lewis had bought all eight tins of juice used to smuggle the cocaine and asked him to carry three.

The basketball player, originally from Montserrat, said that on their way Lewis had asked him to carry his black Prada “man bag”. When he was stopped at customs on arrival a the bag was found to contain £7,000 in cash but the money was not confiscated.

Relatives wept as Judge Nicholas Ainley told the defendants they were motivated by greed and would each be handed the same prison sentence for conspiring to import cocaine.

Acknowledging Lewis’s success as a cricketer, Judge Ainley told him: “You made it to the top of your profession.”

But he added: “This was greed and I am sure that you ran the risk that you did because you deduced that the risk was worth it, because the rewards were substantial.

“You were knowingly and willingly engaged in major organised crime.”

He also condemned both men for refusing to acknowledge their guilt while attempting to pass all the blame on to the other.

“In a cowardly attempt to evade justice, you each sought to blame the other for a crime you obviously jointly committed,” he said.

After the sentencing a senior customs official revealed concern sports stars at the 2012 Olympics could be targeted in similar ploys.

Peter Avery, assistant director of criminal investigations at Revenue and Customs said: “Clearly Chris Lewis has been sucked in by a criminal organisation for whom he was like the ’golden egg’ - an ideal mule. It seems he got sucked in and fell foul.

“A cricketer with a high profile carrying his kit is an obvious choice. We have got the Olympic games coming up in 2012 and clearly spokesmen and women will be targeted by organised criminal gangs from all over the world with a view to facilitating the the importation of drugs into the UK.”
L Gilbert
Oh well.