A GAMBLER cracking under the pressure of loan sharks agreed to import cocaine worth more than £2 million into the UK.

Szymon Chojnacki, 38, was stopped by Border Force officers at Harwich International Port in June.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard he travelled by ferry from the Hook of Holland in a light goods vehicle, with paperwork describing his load as a consignment of mirrors.

But an X-ray examination of the vehicle revealed a hidden compartment underneath a bunk bed, serviced by wires and a switch to open it.

Officers accessed the compartment and found packages of cocaine wrapped in tape.

The packages weighed more than 30kg and the drugs had a purity of between 82 per cent and 88 per cent, with a street value of £2.4 million.

In a basis of plea later accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service, the Polish national said he had fallen into debt with loan sharks due to a gambling addiction.

He said he was threatened and told to drive the vehicle into the UK to pay off his debts.

Chojnacki, of Radom, admitted being concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a prohibition on the importation of a class A drug Ania Grudzinska, mitigating, said Chojnacki’s actions were borne out of “desperation rather than greed”.

She said: “In this unusual case the defendant had been essentially intimidated into the conduct he undertook.

“He was not a party to the concealment of the drugs in that car, it was, in fact, somebody else’s car and somebody else concealed those drugs within the car.”

Judge Patricia Lynch QC sentenced Chojnacki to eight years behind bars, telling him the offence was aggravated by the high quantity of cocaine imported.

She said: “I know you understand this is a serious matter and the courts take the importation of class A drugs seriously, because those class A drugs, when they are cut down, make their way onto the street and there is not one victim but many hundreds of victims.

“Heroin brings misery, pain and devastation to many, many people. Therefore clearly a substantial custodial sentence will attach to your offence.”