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Grandfather, 68, thrown in hellhole Lisbon prison after drug mules plant 3kg of heroin in his luggage

grandfather jailedA British grandfather spent nine months in a Portuguese jail after Mozambique drug mules planted three kilos of heroin in his luggage. Peter Hambrook, 68, was arrested after the class A drug was found in the lining of a borrowed case he had used to bring back gifts from Mozambique.

He was locked up in a Lisbon prison along with rapists and murderers as he battled to clear his name.

Peter, describing his experiences of the prison, said: “It was hell. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever experienced – I never thought that I’d get out.”

The software consultant has spent his career solving glitches in the systems of some of the world’s biggest banks and insurance firms.

In May last year, he was asked to go to Amsterdam by an old colleague where he was due to work for a Dutch travel company earning £500 a day. But once he had landed at the city’s Schipol airport he was told the job was actually 8,000 miles away in a company outpost in Mozambique.

While in the African country he was asked to visit the Maputo Market and buy some gifts “as a thank you” for an associate in Amsterdam. A colleague there known only as “Jack” lent him a case to bring the presents back in.

On the 24th of May last year he travelled back to Europe with a stopover in Portugal before flying back to Amsterdam to complete the paperwork for his job. But when he collected his bag at Lisbon airport, police from the airport’s anti-drug trafficking unit pounced.

They slashed open the case’s canvas lining to find 3kg worth of heroin with a purity of 38.2 per cent. Peter said: “I was surprised. I’d bought straw hats and African carvings and put them in the bag. I had no reason to suspect an ulterior motive.

"I suppose in hindsight I should have been suspicious. Jack offered to lend me a bag and he carried it up the stairs to the room and to the airport.

“I wasn’t paid anything, I knew my fingerprints weren’t on the case, I had no phone messages about it. That’s the constant thread – that’s why I knew I would be freed.”

The full impact of the charges only dawned on him when he appeared in court and discovered the gravity of the charges claiming that he had aided an international drug trafficker.

It was only after four days that he could call his wife Jean to tell her what had happened.

He was then moved to the notorious high-security EP Lisbon Prison where he was held for seven and a half months.

In that time his wife spent more than £30,000 on legal costs and travel.

Peter, who is diabetic, lost more than three stone behind bars and spent days in isolation in a solitary confinement unit.

He described the conditions in the prison as “awful”, with no air conditioning or heating, and there was an open toilet in the cells.

Peter, who is writing a book about his experience, said the UN had a wing shut down due to rats running around last year, and there had been a riot in the prison earlier this year.

During the time he was locked up he said there were 12 deaths, only four of which were from natural causes.

At his trial he was acquitted of the accusations that he was paid up to £10,000 for trafficking the drugs, but his nightmare wasn’t over as prosecutors then launched an appeal, saying he must have been aware he was trafficking the drug.

He was eventually cleared by a panel of judges when they pointed out that he was a family man with “higher education, successful career, and good economic capacity”.

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+3 #12 Rob Gale 2019-09-09 11:03
A couple of comments regards Portuguese injustice reminds me of the Birmingham six???? case when the lord chief justice referring to the birmingham six (who spent nearly 20 yrs in prison for something they did not do)stated that it was better for the innocent to be jailed in the wrong than British justice to be seen to be wrong, double standards comes to mind??
+8 #11 AL 2019-09-09 08:57
So when Mr Peter Hambrook was asked by check in staff whether he packed his luggage himself or not he must have lied. Pleading ignorance doesn't always help, nine months to contemplate on his stupidity seems fair.
-7 #10 Hamilton 2019-09-09 05:43
Bidders will already be circling for the film rights, script writers sketching out scenarios, being an obvious global winner. But they must stay true to the reality of this horrendous experience of Peter Hambrook. The surreal, alien environment of the hopelessness of life and death in today's Portuguese prisons. With a recurring theme of 1890 - as in the film's title "1890 - Goodbye to all that" shown by the Portuguese speaking prison guards repeatedly muttering in recognisable English 'This is for 1890'. As when a guard is crushing on the floor a weeks supply of Mr Hambrook's diabetic pills or another spitting in his porridge. Almost all the prisoners darker or lighter skinned than the guards and clearly better behaved and educated. One a Cabo Verdian computer programmer becomes Hambrook's best mate. Speaking perfect English explaining all about 1890 and its meaning to today's Portuguese. Also his conviction; how, with his wife as tourists in what they had thought was European Lisbon, had stopped to ask some PSP police for directions back to their hotel. Being tasered, beaten up and finding himself charged with attacking the police. His wife's evidence dismissed as the police said he was alone and yet the prosecutor adding in the court testimony the odd statement that "anyway she would say that, wouldn't she". A final shot showing this Cabo Verdian waving from his cell window as Mr Hambrook leaves.
+10 #9 Richard 2 2019-09-08 16:46
Quoting Jim Williams:
... Yet - as always in Portugal - no one will be punished for such a blatant misuse of an alleged EU countries police and justice system.

I am concerned with the final sentence in the article: "He was eventually cleared by a panel of judges when they pointed out that he was a family man with “higher education, successful career, and good economic capacity”." That sounds like the reason that Socrates, Salgados, and many others will never be punished.
-3 #8 Jim Williams 2019-09-08 15:40
Always interesting to note how the Portuguese press sat on this story ( which first surfaced in the UK Mirror around August 17th) as long as they could hoping it would die away without comment. But it didn't - so now the World get's to hear of it and read the Portuguese ADN commenters take on yet another miscarriage of Portuguese justice.
Note how 'someone' in Portuguese police and justice system invented the 10,000 he was allegedly paid, had it thrown out then a frantic appeal by the Prosecutors that he must have known what he was doing. Yet - as always in Portugal - no one will be punished for such a blatant misuse of an alleged EU countries police and justice system.
-4 #7 ex-Met Copper 2019-09-08 08:53
Why are we still getting these unbelievably inept prosecutions in EU Portugal? Pre EU, as we know, a police arrest led straight to conviction but in the EU and after hundreds of TV films Portugal's police must be aware that there must now be demonstrated a stage called investigation. At its simplest an investigation proving which shop sold the luggage and that it was not to this Brit. (hint: it will have luggage in the shop window, if it has vegetables that it is a greengrocer) The hotel will have film of the Brit arriving with an overnight bag and leaving with this bag and a companion with a suitcase. Now this computer techie is tens of thousands out of pocket having paid for his own investigation, lawyers, translators and his loss of earnings. Yet the Portuguese judge only tells us that, after 9 months of hell, we got the wrong man as this one actually seems quite tidy.
Anthony Hopkins is hopefully available so as to give the film global appeal and we must also have internationally distributed documentaries and English language news articles on the background to the film.
-2 #6 Hamilton 2019-09-08 05:52
Anyone thinking that the Portuguese legal system isn't fully capable and with decades of experience of bending reality to look after one of their own or inventing a case against someone they do not like (i.e. British) is from another planet. Maybe Earth - certainly not Planet Portugal.
+8 #5 Richard 2 2019-09-07 19:47
One thing is sure; when the book (and subsequent film?) is released, Mr. Hambrook will portray himself as being totally innocent .
+12 #4 Margaridaana 2019-09-07 13:16
This story does not ring true. A supposedly intelligent man should have smelt a rat; who 'borrows' a case theses days to put on an aircraft? Asking for trouble. Going to Amsterdam for a job, fine, but then being told to go to Mozambique just doesn't add up.
+6 #3 Jack Reacher 2019-09-07 12:20
Guilty your honour of being a drug mule.

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