Drug smugglers from London and Kent convicted after sending £3.5m of crystal meth to Australia

Convicted: Yvonne Stewart, Robert Hamilton, and Kevin Filkins (National Crime Agency)
Convicted: Yvonne Stewart, Robert Hamilton, and Kevin Filkins (National Crime Agency)

Three people from London and Kent have been convicted after sending £3.5 million-worth of crystal meth to Australia.

Yvonne Stewart, 51, from Croydon, Robert Hamilton, 51, from Orpington, and Kevin Filkins, 52, from Sevenoaks were convicted at Croydon Crown Court on Thursday after the cargo containing 24 kilos of crystal meth was seized in Australia.

The court heard how Aussie officials discovered the shipment of drugs had been sent from Croydon on June 25, 2021.

The Organised Crime Partnership team of Met detectives and officers from the National Crime Agency began to investigate and uncovered CCTV of Stewart, who worked in the cargo industry.

It also identified Filkins sending a shipment labelled as ‘two glass Buddhas’ to New South Wales.

Stewart was responsible for security checking the item - but when it arrived in Australia the drugs were clearly visible inside, meaning it had not been properly checked.

The packages were not checked properly by Stewart who worked in the cargo industry (National Crime Agency)
The packages were not checked properly by Stewart who worked in the cargo industry (National Crime Agency)

Phone records also revealed that she had been on the phone to Hamilton at key times, who in turn had been in touch with Filkins.

Filkins’ phone and vehicles also travelled from his home to the vicinity of the cargo centre the same morning, indicating he had driven the drugs cargo there.

Investigators also found that Filkins, Stewart and Hamilton had worked together to send two other shipments to Australia in June 2021.

The three shipments were listed as being sent by three individuals who had their passports stolen.

Two were paid for using a debit card in Filkins’ name, and the third from a card registered to a person whose passport was stolen.

24 bags of crystal meth seized by officers (National Crime Agency)
24 bags of crystal meth seized by officers (National Crime Agency)

That card, along with one of the stolen passports, were found when officers raided Filkins’ home

All three, who were convicted of being concerned in the exportation of Class A drugs, will be sentenced at the same court on March 2.

Hamilton was also convicted Thursday of producing and supplying cannabis after arresting officers discovered a number of plants at his home.

The boxes contained crystal meth (National Crime Agency)
The boxes contained crystal meth (National Crime Agency)

Richard Smith, from the Organised Crime Partnership, said: “This group exploited Stewart’s inside knowledge of the cargo industry to get their illegal shipment to Australia. They believed that once the shipment had been security checked, the drugs should remain undetected until they reached the recipient.

“However, our work with the Australian Federal Police has seen this organised crime group’s criminal supply chain dismantled.”

Detective Sergeant Kristie Cressy, of the Australian Federal Police, said: “The AFP obtained intelligence during an Operation Ironside investigation in Australia about an organised crime syndicate allegedly operating in the UK and sending parcels of illicit drugs offshore.

“We worked closely with our counterparts at the National Crime Agency to share intelligence that identified members of the syndicate operating in the UK and stopped their criminal ventures.”