A MAN claimed he was a taxi driver and had nothing to do with his co-defendant being caught trying to smuggle a block of cocaine worth more than £85,000 in to Pembrokeshire.

Pajtim Meta and Albert Nikolla appeared at Swansea Crown Court accused of trafficking cocaine between Northampton and Milford Haven.

Meta, 26, of Ruskin Road in Northampton, denied possession with intent to supply cocaine, possession of cocaine, and being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

Nikolla, of Plough Way in London, had already admitted possession with intent to supply cocaine and being concerned in the supply of cocaine. On the day of trial, he also admitted a separate offence – based in London – of cocaine possession on June 9 last year.

Prosecutor Caitlin Brazel said this plea was acceptable, and 26-year-old Nikolla will be sentenced following the conclusion of Meta’s trial.

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Opening the case, Ms Brazel told the jury that police were conducting routine traffic checks in the area around the Cleddau Bridge on January 18.

Meta and his co-defendant were stopped, and as soon as the vehicle came to a stop, Nickolla got out of the car and ran.

As he ran, he discarded a bag in which officers found a block of cocaine weighing around one kilogram. Ms Brazel said this had a street value “in excess of £85,000”.

“The defendant and Albert Nikolla were immediately arrested,” Ms Brazel said.

“The defendant’s first account is that he was a taxi driver and had been paid £300 to drive Albert Nikolla from Northampton to Pembrokeshire.

“He alleged he had never been to Pembrokeshire before.”

Ms Brazel said that Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) checks showed that Meta’s car had made “nine separate trips” from Northampton to Milford Haven between November 7 last year and January 19. She told the jury that Meta would stay in Pembrokeshire for no longer than 20 to 30 minutes, before returning.

The prosecution alleged that, when presented with this evidence, Meta then said he had been paid on each of these occasions to drive Nikolla from Northampton to Pembrokeshire, and had previously lied “because he was scared” of a long prison sentence.

Ms Brazel said that officers found three iPhones and clear snap bags when they searched the defendant’s house, as well as £1,880 in cash hidden behind the boiler in the airing cupboard.

The trial continues before Judge Huw Rees.