Ex-soldier who served in Afghanistan jailed for trying to smuggle drugs into Jersey

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A FORMER soldier who served in Afghanistan has been jailed for five years after importing nearly 70 grams of cocaine into the Island to pay for Christmas and a holiday.

Joshua Steven Catracchia (31) was sentenced by the Royal Court today, with Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae stating that it was important for the court to recognise the defendant’s service in the Army.

The Superior Number of the Royal Court, which only convenes for the most serious cases, heard that the drugs had a street value of up to £15,400 and a purity level of 51%. Catracchia pleaded guilty to one count of importing drugs.

Crown Advocate Simon Crowder, prosecuting, warned of the impact of the drug which has the capacity to ‘ruin lives’ and plays a ‘dangerous role in the Island community’.

He said: ‘At approximately 1.25pm on Friday 21 October 2022, Customs and Immigration officers stopped the defendant after he arrived from Manchester Airport. On being questioned about his travel to Jersey, the defendant told the officers that he was travelling alone, that he did not know anyone in Jersey having never visited the Island before, and that he had visited for the one night to find work as a scaffolder.

‘He was taken to the search room. The defendant admitted that he did use cocaine but stated that the last time had been the previous week. His bag was searched, and ion scans were taken of his iPhone and two items of luggage which all came back positive for cocaine.’

The court heard that Catracchia admitted the offences following an X-ray.

Recommending a sentence of six years, Advocate Crowder added: ‘Catracchia travelled to the Island to hand over a package to someone locally in return for financial reward.’

The court heard that Catracchia had been promised a sum of £3,000 for his role as a drug courier which would have helped to pay for birthday presents for family members, along with a trip to Benidorm and the cost of Christmas.

Advocate Chris Baglin, defending, told the court that the Island’s tough drug sentencing laws had come as a surprise to his client.

Advocate Baglin said: ‘In his understanding of the British Isles he thought he could move freely.

‘Like so many couriers he was shocked by the sentencing policy and has accepted that his punishment would be measured in years.’

Between 2008 and 2014 Catracchia served with the British Army, during which time he had served a three-month tour in Afghanistan, according to Advocate Baglin.

He added: ‘He’s not an entirely typical drugs courier – he has considered the impact of the punishment, he didn’t have the consequential thinking clearly [at the time]. He was presented with an opportunity and saw some financial gain.’

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