Rotherham heroin smuggler hands himself into police after fleeing before his trial

A Rotherham drug smuggler who went on the run and was sentenced to a 20-year prison sentence in his absence has handed himself in to police.

David Birks handed himself in at Rotherham police station on Tuesday, meaning he will now start serving the prison sentence imposed last week at Canterbury Crown Court.

Birks, 42, was arrested at his home address in Dale Street, Rotherham by officers from the National Crime Agency’s Border Policing Command in April 2014 in connection with a consignment of heroin seized in Dover the previous month.

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Border Force officers searched a rented flat-bed truck and found a hold-all contained tape-wrapped packages of heroin under a seat in the cab. The drugs, if cut and sold in the UK, would have had a likely potential street value of £1.8 million.

NCA investigators were able to show that Birks had driven out to Belgium on the same day as the truck.

He met the driver, a Lithuanian national, near Turnhout in Belgium, loaded the drugs into the cab in a black holdall, and then returned to the UK separately.

Following his arrest Birks was charged with importing a class A drug, but he fled before his trial started. He was tried and found guilty in his absence by a jury at Canterbury Crown Court on October 23 and later sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Nick Tuffs from the NCA’s Dover border investigation team, said: “David Birks played a key role in an attempt to smuggle class A drugs worth almost £2 million into the UK. There is no doubt that those drugs would have ended up on our streets.”

The Lithuanian driver of the truck was convicted for his involvement in the attempted importation in December 2014, but following a psychiatric evaluation he was given an absolute discharge by the court.