On-the-run drug dealer who sparked Novichok scare in the UK is jailed

A playboy drug dealer who sparked fears of a fresh Novichok attack in the UK when he collapsed in a Salisbury restaurant has been jailed after six months on the run.

Alex King, 42, was sentenced to 11 years in his absence in January after he was found guilty of selling drugs including cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine.

He went on the run in December after a string of failed attempts to avoid justice, including his false claim to have been poisoned in a branch of Prezzo, where he was dining with his Russian-born wife, Anna Shapiro.

Alex King, 42, sparked fears of a Novichok attack (Met Police/PA)
Alex King, 42, sparked fears of a Novichok attack (Met Police/PA)

The scheme sparked a major incident last September, six months after Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia fell ill shortly after leaving Zizzi, another Italian dining chain in the city, after coming into contact with the deadly nerve agent.

The previous month, King and his wife had to be rescued while sailing off the Welsh coast by the RNLI after the boat they bought in Holyhead, north Wales, ran out of fuel.

But his attempts to avoid justice finally came to an end on Wednesday when he was arrested at an address in Chiltern Street, in Marylebone, west London.

King was last seen leaving a flat with his wife near Harley Street – around half a mile away – on December 17 last year.

He was taken to Southwark Crown Court, where he was jailed for another four months on top of his 11-year sentence after admitting breaching his bail.

Scotland Yard said a 30-year-old woman who was arrested for assisting an offender remains in police custody.

King’s “bizarre” party lifestyle was laid bare in court earlier this year as he was convicted 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 following a trial.

Jurors were told he sold drugs, including cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine, and arranged high-class escorts, including his wife, to make money.

King’s associate, Baljit Gill, 38, who lived with his parents in Welling, south-east London, was jailed for nine years after he was found guilty of two charges of conspiring to sell Class A drugs after a separate trial.

Police found King in bed with Ms Shapiro when they raided his flat in Marylebone, which cost thousands of pounds a month to rent, on June 29 2016.

Officers found a block of 90%-pure cocaine, MDMA powder, ecstasy pills bearing the Just Eat logo, crack cocaine, ketamine and diazepam, with a street value of around £60,000 in a safe.

Sebastian Gardiner, defending Gill, described King as a “very bizarre” character who lived a “glamorous, albeit seedy, existence”, making money from arranging parties, selling drugs and supplying high-class escorts to his VIP clients.

King had taken photographs and videos of drugs and himself with his merchandise, which were found on his mobile phone, while father-of-one Gill had recorded himself arranging a drug deal.

The pair’s phones contained pictures of them posing with their expensive jewellery, while in one video clip of them “showing off”, Gill drives towards the camera in an Aston Martin, and says: “It’s a present from Alex King to me.”

King’s barrister, Leon Kazakos, said he has not had any contact with his client, who had been living a “flash lifestyle, which has been hired rather than purchased”.

- Press Association

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