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Ilford man freed after six years in prison on drug smuggling charges after false witness testimony revealed

PUBLISHED: 12:50 14 November 2012

An Ilford man who served almost six years behind bars for bringing cocaine into the UK has finally been cleared - after investigations revealed a key witness lied at his trial.

Adekunle Akanbi-Akinlade was jailed for 12 years at Isleworth Crown Court in May 2007 after being found guilty of drug smuggling, following his arrest at Heathrow Airport the previous December.

The 48-year-old, of Lavender Place, always maintained he was innocent, claiming the drugs were planted in his suitcase by a man in Nigeria.

Today he walked free from London’s Criminal Appeal Court, after top judges ruled his conviction ‘unsafe’ following an investigation by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

The court heard Mr Akanbi-Akinlade was apprehended as he went through customs at Heathrow on 22 December 2006.

Customs officers found 1kg of cocaine of 100 per cent purity, with a street value of £174,000, hidden inside the handle of his suitcase.

He initially claimed he bought the luggage himself but later said a man he knew only as Michael, or Segum - the boyfriend of his friend Olubumni Cole - gave them to him.

Ms Cole denied knowing any such man and said she didn’t have a boyfriend in Nigeria during Mr Akanbi-Akinlade’s trial.

But when officers searched Ms Cole’s flat in January this year they found a Nigerian marriage certificate to a man named Michael a few months before she denied having a boyfriend of that name.

Ms Cole claimed she had not lied when she gave her evidence in 2007, but was convicted of perverting the course of justice at Southwark Crown Court on October 26.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting with Mr Justice Simon and Mr Justice Wilkie, said the conviction is ‘not safe’ and quashed it - clearing Mr Akanbi-Akinlade.


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