The lavish lifestyle of an on-the-run Novichok conman can be revealed for the first time as he is convicted in his absence of dealing drugs worth £60,000 – as police launch a manhunt to track him down.
Alex King, 42, wrongly claimed he and his Russian-born partner, escort Anna Shapiro, had been poisoned with the deadly nerve agent while eating at Prezzo in Salisbury last September.
It came just six months after Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned with the nerve agent in a genuine attack in the city last March.
King is now a wanted man after he was convicted in his absence of supplying drugs including cocaine and ecstasy at Southwark Crown Court – as police release images showing the extent of his criminal activities.
Alex King, 42, is now a wanted man after he was convicted in his absence of supplying drugs including cocaine and ecstasy at Southwark Crown Court. Police release this image of the drug dealer following his conviction today
King, 42, wrongly claimed he and his Russian-born partner, escort Anna Shapiro (left and right), had been poisoned with the deadly nerve agent while eating at Prezzo in Salisbury last September. There is no suggestion Ms Shapiro was involved in any illegal activity
King was convicted in his absence of two charges of conspiracy to supply class A drugs, one charge of conspiracy to supply class B drugs and one charge of conspiracy to supply class C drugs
Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith will sentence both pair King (right) and Baljit Gill (left), 38, tomorrow after both were convicted of being involved in a drug supply operation
Jurors were told King had attempted to avoid standing trial by dodging legal hearings and coming up with various excuses – but he was convicted in his absence of drug dealing
A warrant has now been issued for King’s arrest after repeatedly failed to show up for legal hearings in relation to his drug dealing offences
Police also found a block of compressed, high quality cocaine when they raided King’s home in Fitzrovia, London on June 29, 2016
His partner in crime, Baljit Gill, 38, is now facing jail after he was convicted of running the drug supply operation by a jury today after three hours deliberating.
During his evidence, Gill denied dealing drugs with King but claimed the playboy knew celebrities including supermodel Naomi Campbel, actor Tom Hardy and boxer Anthony Joshua.
Jurors were told King had attempted to avoid standing trial by dodging legal hearings and coming up with various excuses.
He was eventually convicted of supplying drugs in his absence and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith, who will sentence the pair tomorrow told jurors: ‘Well, you want to know where he is, well I am afraid I do not know.
King is currently wanted by police and anyone with information about his current location is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
‘He could not have tried harder to avoid trial.
‘He was in a restaurant in Salisbury when he claimed to be ill. That may cause some recollection of the news reports last year.’
Sebastian Gardiner, defending, 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.
Mr Gardiner said King was released on bail following the raid in June 2016, but has twice breached conditions to spend each night at his 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.
Emergency services outside the Prezzo restaurant in Salisbury on Sunday, where police have closed streets as a ‘precautionary measure’
The barrister said 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.
Earlier David Matthews, prosecuting, said 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.
King (pictured), sparked a major alert in Salisbury last year by claiming that he had been poisoned alongside his partner Anna Shapiro
‘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.
‘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.’
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.’
‘This is obviously five different types of connoisseurs’ cocaine.’
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.
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.’
Gill (pictured), of Welling, southeast London, denied but was convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine and ecstasy and cleared on conspiring to supply ketamine and diazepam
Ms Shapiro claimed she was being hunted by the Russian secret service when she and her partner King claimed to need hospital treatment
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.
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, southeast London, denied but was convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine and ecstasy and cleared on conspiring to supply ketamine and diazepam.
King, of Weymouth Street, Fitzrovia, was convicted in his absence of conspiring to supply cocaine, ecstasy and diazepam.
The pair will be sentenced tomorrow at 2pm.