A Coventry man jailed for manslaughter escaped from prison to run a £25million drug smuggling empire from Holland, a court heard yesterday.
Keith Harrison (50) fled North Sea Camp prison in Lincolnshire while on home leave and made his way to Amsterdam where he had links in the criminal underworld.
Harrison, a father-of-one, set up a business there buying drugs from a Dutch drugs baron.
Harrison and six other men have pleaded guilty at Birmingham Crown Court to their parts in the drugs racket. Two others were convicted following a trial.
Stephen Linehan QC, prosecuting, said Harrison travelled between the UK and Holland under an assumed identity, and it was on one of these occasions that he contacted other criminal associates including Nottingham-based Anthony Handley who became his "partner".
It was Handley's job to arrange for the collection of drugs once brought into the UK, distribute them for sale, and channel the proceeds back to Harrison.
The court heard that in November 2002 the Dutch police began to investigate Harrison and they passed on information to British police who learned that they were importing drugs on boats, vans and lorries. The nine will be sentenced on Monday.