A DRUG runner who was caught bringing around £166,000 of cannabis into Ceredigion has avoided a prison sentence.

Gemma Howell was initially caught with one kilogram of cannabis in her car, but upon further inspection, officers found another 14 kilograms stashed in a secret compartment.

Her co-defendant, Alexis Eberhard has pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply cannabis between December 19, 2022, and June 1, 2023.

Eberhard, 23, of James Close in Llanon, is awaiting a trial of issue later this month after pleading guilty on a basis relating “to a single kilogram” of cannabis.

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Two police officers approached a car in the Penparcau in Aberystwyth on the afternoon of June 1 and noticed there was a smell of cannabis coming from it, prosecutor Mr Walters said.

Howell was sat in the passenger seat, and was the only person inside the car. The officers searched the vehicle, and a vacuum sealed bag was found in the boot containing around a kilogram of cannabis.

A mobile phone was seized, which began receiving calls from a contact named ‘Alex’.

Analysing messages on the phone, officers found that Howell had travelled with the drugs to Aberystwyth to meet Eberhard.

Mr Walters said officers attended the address Eberhard had given Howell, and when they asked to see his phone, he told them that he had lost it.

A phone was found “15 yards from his garden fence,” Mr Walters said. This had the same number as the one that had been contacting Howell.

When officers inspected Howell’s vehicle further, and found a further 14 packages of cannabis in a hidden compartment in the car.

Mr Walters said the total 15 kilograms of cannabis had an estimated street value of “£166,000”.

It was found that Howell had travelled between Birmingham and Aberystwyth on five more occasions – on December 20 last year, and January 8, February 7, February 28, and April 12 this year.

Judge Paul Thomas KC said that the total street value of the cannabis transported by Howell, extrapolated from the total number of trips, could have been around £1 million.

Defence counsel Jeffrey Israel said that Howell, 30, of Plowden Road in Kidbrooke, Greenwich, has no previous convictions.

He said that she had “genuine remorse” over her actions, and had already spent six months in prison since her arrest. Mr Israel added that her young son had “suffered in her absence”.

Judge Thomas said that had Howell not spent that time in jail, she would have been handed an immediate prison sentence.

“Your stupid and unexplained involvement in a series of drug runs in mid-Wales has landed you in prison for the equivalent of a 12-month sentence,” he said.

“Quite why you got involved is a mystery.”

Howell was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, for conspiracy to supply cannabis. She must also complete 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a six month monitoring requirement.