A DRUGS courier has been jailed for bringing two kilograms of cocaine to Devon after police used a drone to monitor his movements.

John-Paul Austin agreed to drive the drugs from Liverpool for a County Lines drugs gang but police learned of the massive delivery and intercepted it on Riviera Way in Torquay.

They used a drone to follow a man who was seen approaching his car but who fled into woodland when he saw the police activity. He dumped a rucksack containing £17,570 cash which he had been about to hand over and which was found by police.

The two kilos of 70 per cent purity cocaine could have been worth £200,000 if broken into street deals and had a wholesale value of £32,000 to £82,000.

Austin, aged 43, of Prescott Road, Liverpool, admitted possession of class A cocaine with intent to supply and was jailed for three and a half years by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court.

Marcus Ayres, aged 26, of Fir Walk, Torquay, who carried the money, admitted being concerned in the supply of cocaine and possession of criminal property and was jailed for two years, suspended for two years and ordered to do 240 hours unpaid community work and 20 days of rehabilitation activities.

Mr Joss Ticehurst said police intelligence led them to search Austin’s car on June 15 this year and find the bag containing two kilograms of cocaine on the back seat.

Officers spotted Ayres approaching the car and running off when he saw the police and used a drone to track him as he went into woods to dump the rucksack with the cash inside.

Mr Lee Bremridge, for Austin, said he made the foolish decision to get involved with the drug run because he needed cash to support his family after losing his labouring job during the Covid lockdown.

Mr Brian Fitzherbert, for Ayres, said the money he carried was not going to be exchanged for the cocaine but represented a payment from the sale of a much shorter amount.

He said Ayres is a hard-working man who was told to carry the cash by dealers who he owed money to as a result of using drugs to cope with the effects of a difficult childhood.