Jailed after 12 years on the run

A DRUG smuggler who escaped from prison in a laundry van and went on the run for 12 years was jailed again on Friday, March 4.

Gerald McDonald (58), of Rochdale Road, Todmorden, was jailed for five and a half years and told that he must also serve the seven year sentence imposed in 1992 at Maidstone Crown Court for drugs offences.

He admitted escaping from custody, possessing a gun, two offences of possessing illegal ammunition and one of possessing cannabis.

Bradford Crown Court heard McDonald managed to evade capture by using false documents in the names of John Berry, James Clements and Michael Porter, before he was finally stopped in Todmorden on January 28 by Calderdale police after a tip-off.

Ian Howard, prosecuting, said he initially gave the details of John Berry but police inquiries revealed that he was a wanted man which led officers to his sister-in-law's apartment in Rochdale Road, Todmorden.

Police recovered a specially adapted replica handgun, ammunition, false driving licences, passports, a birth certificate, 35,000 cash and a cannabis bush that McDonald said was for his own use.

McDonald said he bought the gun to protect himself from former associates from the drug underworld.

Simon Myers, for McDonald, said: "He escaped from custody but he has spent the last 12 years looking over his shoulder."

He could now be as old as 70 when he is released.

He had smuggled his way out of the newly opened high security Elmley Prison, Kent, on August 3, 1992 by hiding in a laundry van.

McDonald, who lived in Aberdeen, was serving time for his part in attempting to import 750,000 of cannabis into Scotland.

He was the "bagman" for a Glasgow drugs syndicate and, with a friend, had taken 100,000 as a down payment for 200kg of cannabis.

But he was being tailed by the Scottish Crime Squad and officers from the Regional Crime Squad in London.

The pair drove down to a motel in Gravesend where they were to meet a courier with the drugs. But there was a delay because the men did not recognise each other and at one stage the cash was left under a pub seat while both men went to the toilet.

Undercover officers swooped when the exchange was finally made.

McDonald was due to pick up 5,000 for taking the money to the meeting and transporting the drugs back to Aberdeen.

He was said to have already spent 3,000 of his cut on a sunshine cruise.