A LORRY fleet boss jailed for 16 years for his involvement in a plot to smuggle a £1.7m heroin haul into the UK has failed in a bid for freedom.
Top judges rejected as “quite incapable of belief” the fresh evidence Northwich man Stephen Stockall would clear his name.
Stockall, 48, of Marchford Close, Kingsmead was caged at Southampton Crown Court in March last year after being found guilty of being involved in illegally importing 13.8kgs of heroin through Newhaven ferryport in June, 2006.
The drugs had been smuggled from Dieppe, France, concealed in a loudspeaker in a lorry driven by Ronnie Rothenburg, formerly of Wallace Street, Northwich, who was also handed a 16-year term.
Although the lorry was one of a fleet belonging to a firm owned by Stockall, he denied all knowledge of the drugs consignment.
His case reached London’s Court of Appeal in May this year, but appeal grounds based on non-disclosure of detailed evidence regarding the customs operation were rejected by Lord Justice Hooper.
However Stockall was given four more weeks to come up with new evidence to clear his name.
Yesterday, Thursday, that fresh evidence was put before the Appeal Court, but Lord Justice Hooper, sitting with Mrs Justice Swift and Mr Justice Hamblen, was again unconvinced.
The evidence, in the form of a statement from a man who is himself awaiting trial on drugs charges, was put forward by Stockall as evidence he played no role in the smuggling operation.
But Lord Justice Hooper dismissed the evidence as “quite incapable of belief”.
“What convinces us that this statement is quite incapable of belief is the schedule of phone calls,” the judge said, referring to “a significant number of phone calls” that passed between Stockall, Rothenburg and the man who made the statement.
“This application for leave to appeal against conviction is dismissed,” the judge concluded.