Two men who tried to post almost £1 million worth of cocaine to Australia in hollowed out books have been jailed.

Glen Appleby, 53, of Chingford, and his accomplice Marc Warner attempted to post the class A drugs using a high-end department store shipping service, in Brompton Road, Knightsbridge.

The court heard how on Saturday, March 9 security staff at the store became suspicious of the two men after watching them on CCTV trade items while hidden behind a bookshelf.

Warner then headed to the till and requested for two books to be shipped to Australia, paying by cash.

Staff raised the alarm when they noticed one book to be in a poor condition; the other was recognised as having been purchased from store earlier that day.

Epping Forest Guardian:

Marc Warner, 52, of Dartfields, Romford was jailed for five years. Photo: Met Police

Upon inspection both books were found to have been hollowed out. Inside were eight packages containing almost 8kgs of 92 per cent pure cocaine with an estimated street value in Australia of $1.84m.

CCTV footage from the store showed that between January 15 and February 27 the pair had visited the department store five times, purchasing books and computer games and paying for them to be despatched to Australia.

Search warrants were executed at the men’s homes in May and both were arrested on suspicion of the exportation of controlled drugs.

Detective Constable Colin Moore of the Central West gangs unit, said: “Appleby and Warner were a small part of a sophisticated international drugs smuggling gang.

“They sought to exploit the good name of a quintessential British brand in order to smuggle drugs into a lucrative Australian drugs market. In doing so they helped fuel violence, addiction and associated criminality both within the UK and abroad.”

Appleby, of Weale Road, Chingford, and Warner, 52, of Dartfields, Romford, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to evade a prohibition on the exportation of a class A drug on Wednesday, August 16 at Isleworth Crown Court.

On Tuesday, October 29, both were sentenced to five years’ imprisonment at the same court.