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‘Brain of Britain’ jailed for McDonald’s cocaine haul

PUBLISHED: 06:05 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 08:27 18 March 2020

John Woolsey has been sentenced after cocaine was found in a McDonad's bag. File photo of a McDonald's sign. : Rui Vieira/PA Wire

John Woolsey has been sentenced after cocaine was found in a McDonad's bag. File photo of a McDonald's sign. : Rui Vieira/PA Wire

A man dubbed “Brain of Britain” by his defence brief has been jailed after a plan to trick a jury into thinking he was not conspiring to supply cocaine fell flat.

A man kept cocaine in a McDonald's bag in his van. File photo. Picture: Getty ImagesA man kept cocaine in a McDonald's bag in his van. File photo. Picture: Getty Images

John Woolsey, of Churchill Estate, Fakenham, had given a no-comment interview to police when he was arrested with a McDonald’s bag containing £32,000-worth of high-purity cocaine from Columbia, a court heard.

However, behind the 57-year-old’s blank expression, his mind was working furiously to concoct a story to explain how he had come to have it in his white transit van on May 17, 2018.

Just before his trial at Reading Crown Court, Woolsey declared in his defence case statement that he had met a traveller, whose name he did not know, in a pub in Essex, which he did not know the name of, who gave him the McDonald’s bag, which he was told contained money, and asked him to transport it to an unknown location to persons unknown.

Judge Peter Clarke QC, who presided over the trial in which Woolsey was convicted, said: “I found the evidence about meeting a traveller in a pub by chance that evening did strain credulity.”

MORE: ‘He is not exactly Brain of Britain’ - man kept cocaine in McDonald’s bag in van

The lawyer defending Woolsey at his trial had tried to back up his story by arguing that his client was a “dope” who would have taken a package from an unknown person with no questions asked.

Michael Clare had told the jury: “He is not the Brain of Britain is he? I do not mean to be rude about him but it is a feature in this case. If you saw a piece of paper in his hand, you could be confident it was not a Mensa application form.”

However, at Woolsey’s sentencing hearing on Tuesday, after the jury had returned their verdicts, Mr Clare admitted he had not really believed Woolsey’s story.

Addressing the judge via video link, Mr Clare said: “Your honour will not be surprised to learn that was the stance I took from my very first conference, which led to an application to transfer legal aid.

“The defendant has rolled the dice in the way that he chose to, which is his right.”

Earlier in the trial, the cocaine was thought to have been worth just £23,000, but it was later revalued.

Despite his client being convicted, Mr Clare had successfully demonstrated during the trial that self-seal plastic bags in Scalextric enthusiast Woolsey’s transit van were actually being used to keep parts for his model car racing set, not drug paraphernalia as the prosecution suggested.

Sentencing Woolsey and his co-conspirator Matthew Voyle, Judge Clarke said: “You, of course, will regard this minute as being the turning point and the life changing moment of your lives.

“The unfortunate truth of the matter was that turning point and the change in your lifestyle was in May 2018 when you agreed to take part in this conspiracy.

“I am entirely satisfied that you were both mere cogs in a far bigger machine. The quality of the cocaine that was seized was such that it must have been unsoiled all the way from Columbia to Essex where you were found to be in possession of it.”

Addressing Woolsey alone, Judge Clarke said: “You were not candid with the police or with the jury who convicted you.

“The account you gave was, in fact, and it does not come to your credit, your account was woefully under-prepared and it was therefore very difficult for the jury to swallow it for a moment.”

Woolsey was jailed for three-and-a-half years for conspiracy to supply a controlled drug of Class A. Voyle was jailed for 48 months on the same charge.

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