A SMUGGLER who helped set up a bogus company to ship more than £1m worth of cannabis into the UK was jailed yesterday.

The firm, Andalusite UK, in Sunderland, used a front of importing minerals from South Africa for industrial use.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how cannabis was stashed within the shipments.

The gang was foiled when customs officers at Tilbury Docks, Essex, discovered £250,000 worth of cannabis in one of the imports.

William Hellens, 44, of Mafeking Street, Pallion, Sunderland, denied the conspiracy, between March 1998 and April 1999, but was found guilty by a jury yesterday.

Judge Michael Cartlidge sentenced Hellens, who served five years for supplying Ecstasy in 1993 and was still on licence when he became involved with the conspiracy, to nine years in jail.