Declan Topping switched from driving tanks to delivering cocaine(Image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Former tank driver delivered kilo of cocaine from London to Bristol

Police watched Declan Topping deliver the consignment to a property and stopped him with £54,000 when he drove away


As a former tank driver Declan Topping was trained to opitimize the fighting efficiency of the Challenger 2 tank.

But when he left the Army he drove a kilo of cocaine from London to Bristol in a Toyota Yaris and police stopped him in his tracks.

Topping, of previous good character, agreed to transport the package after falling short of money.

For him, a combination of his naivety, and being exploited, cost him a prison sentence.

Topping, 24, of Eatock Way in Bolton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and possessing criminal property on January 21.

Judge Martin Picton jailed him for 44 months.

He told Topping: "You served your country in the Army.

"You've blown all that now."

The judge confiscated an agreed proceeds of crime of £54,030, as well as the Toyota car, and ordered the forfeiture of mobile phones and drugs recovered.

Ian Fenny, prosecuting, told Bristol Crown Court police looked on as Topping arrived at a Bristol address with a gold bag, having driving from London.

The occupant of the address - who has been dealt with separately - was then followed to a Co-op where he bought bicarbonate of soda.

It was the prosecution case that this was for use in the production of crack cocaine.

After some 45 minutes at the premises, Topping drove away in his Toyota.

Mr Fenny said: "The car was stopped and searched.

"It contained £54,000 cash in notes and two mobile phones, one of which was encrypted."

Topping told police he was simply running a courier service.

George Threlfall, defending, said his client served in the Army for six years, training as a tank driver, mechanic and gunner and aspiring to go on a corporal course and become a tank commander.

But having left the Army Topping struggled financially and agreed to make a delivery for a man in London for £500.

The court heard that, after driving south to London, Topping was told to drive a package to Bristol.

Mr Threlfall said: "He hadn't understood that, after London, he would have to drive to Bristol.

"It left him with a £150 round-trip."

Mr Threlfall said his client aspired to re-join the Army two years after his release from prison.

He told the court: "He is the author of his own misfortune, he knows that.

"If he can get back into the Army that would be something that he really, really wants.

"He very much regrets his involvement in this.

"It was a combination of financial need and naivety. I would say he has been exploited."