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One-legged Essex drug smuggler still on the run

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Richard Wakeling has strong family links to Thailand, according to the National Crime Agency

A one-legged drug smuggler who tried to import £8m worth of drugs has been on the run for more than a year.

Richard Wakeling, 52, fled to Belfast in January 2018 ahead of a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Wakeling, of Brentwood, Essex, was jailed in his absence for 11 years for conspiracy to import amphetamines.

The National Crime Agency has released new CCTV footage in a bid to catch Wakeling, who has a prosthetic leg and needs regular medical treatment.

It said he had links to Ireland, Canada and Thailand.

Wakeling left his home on 5 January in his Audi Q3 before catching a bus from Heathrow to Glasgow, and then taking a ferry from Stranraer to Belfast.

A week later his car was driven back to his home address.

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Wakeling leaves his home for the last time in January 2018

NCA operations manager Paul Green said: “Wakeling has been on the run for well over a year now and knows we are still looking for him.

“He should also know we will do everything in our power to bring him back to serve his sentence.

“I would urge him to hand himself in. I’ve no doubt someone seeing this appeal will have information about his whereabouts.”

Plastic drums of liquefied amphetamine were discovered by Border Force officials in April 2016, sparking the NCA investigation.

Lorry drivers Lesley Muffett, 59, of Campbell Road, Witham, and Stuart Davidson, 65, of Chesham Drive, Basildon, as well as Darren Keane, 34, of Kiln Drive, Milton Keynes, were convicted of their involvement alongside the absent Wakeling after a 12-week trial.

Keane was jailed for nine years, Davidson to eight years and Muffett for six years for conspiring to import drugs.

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