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Novichok fraudster convicted of dealing drugs worth £60,000

Alex King, 42, claimed he and escort Anna Shapiro had been exposed to Novichok

A playboy who claimed he had been poisoned by Novichok six months after the deadly attack in Salisbury is facing jail for dealing in drugs worth £60,000.

Alex King, 42, claimed he and his Russian-born partner, escort Anna Shapiro, had been exposed to the Kremlin nerve agent eating at Prezzo, an Italian restaurant in the city.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned in the Wiltshire city in March last year.

King is now a wanted man after he was convicted in his absence of supplying drugs including cocaine and ecstasy at Southwark Crown Court in London.

Jurors were told King had attempted to avoid standing trial by dodging legal hearings and coming up with excuses.

He was eventually convicted of supplying drugs in his absence and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Baljit Gill, 38, is now on trial accused of being involved in drugs supply following the raid on King’s West End apartment.

It was suggested in court that King took escort bookings for Ms Shapiro (pictured)

Ms Shapiro in a modelling photo

It was suggested in court that King took escort bookings for Ms Shapiro (pictured)

During his evidence, Gill told the jury that King was friends with the likes of supermodel Naomi Campbell and actor Tom Hardy.

Gill said: ‘He knows all the celebrities. He knows Anthony Joshua, we met Naomi Campbell.

‘He knew Tom Hardy, he met Tom Hardy and he went to a premiere with him. He owns a private jet, he owns a yacht – he’s got everything,’ explained Gill. 

Defence counsel Sebastian Gardiner told jurors that King is ‘something of a playboy’ – attending high-end sex parties and rubbing shoulders with various VIPs.

‘He is someone that appears to revel in the lifestyle,’ said Mr Gardiner, showing the jury pictures of King next to flash cars and celebrities.

The barrister went on to say that there were photos on King’s phone, recovered during the raid on his pad, linking him to high-class ‘sex parties.’

Mr Gardiner suggested that King took escort bookings for Ms Shapiro.

Ms Shapiro claimed she was being hunted by the Russian secret service, the court heard

Ms Shapiro claimed she was being hunted by the Russian secret service, the court heard

He said: ‘There is evidence to suggest his partner was a high-class escort, charging hundreds of pounds for her services which she would advertise with escort websites and with agencies.’

Baljit Gill, 38, is now on trial accused of being involved in drugs supply following the raid on King's West End apartment

Baljit Gill, 38, is now on trial accused of being involved in drugs supply following the raid on King’s West End apartment

Gill told jurors: ‘I wasn’t aware of what she was doing initially but I found out that she was a high-class escort, she was a prostitute.’

Mr Gardiner explained that King was released on bail following the raid in June 2016, but has twice breached the condition that he must spend each night at home in London.

‘On one occasion he had to be rescued from the sea off the coast of Holyhead by the RNLI with Anna Shapiro, in the hours of darkness.

‘Possibly he was trying to escape the jurisdiction, who knows,’ added Mr Gardiner.

The barrister explained that the second incident came when the couple visited Salisbury last September, causing a major alert by claiming that he had been poisoned.

‘Ms Shapiro claimed she was being hunted by the Russian secret service and they had been poisoned and he was on death’s door.

‘He hadn’t been poisoned, and he was discharged from hospital two days later,’ he said.

King claimed he and Ms Shapiro were exposed to Novichok at Prezzo in Salisbury (file image)

King claimed he and Ms Shapiro were exposed to Novichok at Prezzo in Salisbury (file image)

Earlier David Matthews, prosecuting, told how police raided King’s home in Fitzrovia on June 29, 2016.

‘Baljit Gill ran a drug supply business in central London and he did that with Alex King, they supplied cocaine.

‘They were doing business on phones and delivering directly to customers, whether at customers’ homes or elsewhere. One of the places they used was a central London flat.

‘It was a ground floor flat and that is where Alex King lived with his girlfriend, a Russian woman called Anna Shapiro.

‘Police went to the flat at about quarter to 8am with a search warrant and they found Alex King and Anna Shapiro asleep in bed.’

After police burst through the front door and stormed the flat, they found two safes hidden in one of the kitchen cupboards.

Inside the first safe, which was opened for them by King, they found a number of prepared drug wraps.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned in the Wiltshire city in March last year

Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned in the Wiltshire city in March last year

‘The second safe was opened at the police station by a locksmith,’ said the prosecutor.

‘On this occasion it was being used largely for cocaine, a little bit of ketamine and some MDMA in crystal form.’

King lived with his girlfriend, Ms Shapiro

King lived with his girlfriend, Ms Shapiro

Police also found a block of compressed, high quality cocaine: ‘In broad terms, what is there is a good quantity of cocaine. It is just under 60 grams in total and its of a reasonable purity.

‘You will hear a suggestion that that might have cost, if you were buying in bulk, something like £18,000. Drugs are very market sensitive, if you buy in bulk you get a discount.

‘If it was sold on, you will hear a suggestion that that might reach or fetch £60,000.’

Mr Matthews said there were also 193 ecstasy pills, with a wholesale value of around £500 and a street value of just shy of £2,000, alongside 21g of crystal MDMA.

Stashed away in the flat was also 25 grams of ketamine, with a street value of over £500 and around 100 tablets of diazepam, worth around £100.

‘There are also some electronic scales for weighing out relatively small amounts of drugs. There are small bags of cocaine in there too.’

Investigators found various varieties of cocaine, which included ‘Peruvian Flake’, ‘Bolivian Mist’, ‘Colombian Flake’ and ‘Colombian Gold’.

Mr Matthews added: ‘This is obviously five different types of connoisseurs’ cocaine.’

Police and other emergency service personal outside the Prezzo in Salisbury last September

Police and other emergency service personal outside the Prezzo in Salisbury last September

The prosecutor told how police recovered a list of names and amounts of money on it: ‘It looks like a debt list. It means that they are selling on credit – that means regular customers, allowed to pay after they are given the drugs.’

Police also recovered a white Samsung phone that was on King’s bedside table, which had texts between an individual called Tyson or Buddy Boy New.

King has been convicted in his absence of offences concerning the supply of drugs

King has been convicted in his absence of offences concerning the supply of drugs

Police were able to trace this contact back to Gill who was pursued by police in his black Ford Focus until he was boxed in by specialist units, the court heard.

‘They found in his right hand pocket an MDMA tablet with the sign ‘Just Eat’. There was an iPhone on him, which he refused to give the pin to.’

Police also found £165 in his pocket and a further £2,500 stashed away in the car. When asked if it was his, Gill claimed he had won it at the casino.

Gill told jurors that he had met King at a Ladbrokes bookmakers on Edgware Road where the pair shared tips on accumulators.

He said he told King that he was looking for a job and he offered to make Gill his driver.

Jurors were shown a video filmed by King showing the pair driving around in a £250,000 Aston Martin, which King claims is ‘the same car they used in a James Bond film.’

King claims the car is a gift to Gill, telling the camera: ‘We work hard, we’ve got to spend our money on something and enjoy life. There are a lot of jealous people out there, a lot of haters, but that’s life I guess.’

Gill is heard saying: ‘Alex King, top boy in London. He’s a king.’

But during the trial, Gill told the jury: ‘He was trying to pretend that he had just bought me a £200,000 car, which he obviously didn’t.’ 

Gill, of Welling, South East London, denies supplying drugs including cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine and diazepam.

King, of Fitzrovia, has been convicted in his absence of offences concerning the supply of drugs. The trial continues. 

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