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Radio 1 DJ Grooverider Given Four-Year Jail Term For Cannabis Smuggling

Herb Fellow

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The Radio 1 DJ Grooverider has been sentenced to a four-year prison term in Dubai after admitting to carrying cannabis into the country. Grooverider — whose real name is Raymond Bingham — told judges at previous court appearance: "The drugs were in my possession and I forgot I had them in my trousers."

He was convicted yesterday and given the minimum sentence for drug possession in the United Arab Emirates, where deeply conservative laws sometimes collide with the liberal values of the millions of tourists who visit each year.

Grooverider's lawyers had tried to argue in his defence that he was unaware of the laws. The 40-year-old DJ, who co-hosts the weekly BBC Radio 1 drum-and bass programme Fabio and Grooverider, was arrested at Dubai airport on November 23, with 2.16 grams of cannabis in his pockets just hours before he was due to play a sold-out show at a popular nightclub.

"I just want this to end and to never come back. It was a small amount. Back home I would not even get prosecuted," he previously stated, in a published interview from jail. A BBC spokesman said: "He made a serious mistake and is paying a very high price." Grooverider has been off the air since his arrest last November. Although not officially suspended by Radio 1 it is understood that the BBC is not paying him a salary, as the DJ is paid for each show he presents. Bingham has provided his own legal representation.

Drugs are strictly banned in the United Arab Emirates, however there have been several high-profile cases of foreigners being jailed for smuggling small amounts into the country.

A British tourist, Keith Brown, spent four years in jail for the possession of 0.002 grams of cannabis. Bert Tatham, a Canadian UN official who advised the Afghan government was also jailed for carrying 0.5 grams of hashish and two poppy seeds into the country. The rulers of Dubai later issued Mr Tatham a rare pardon, deported to Canada. Highlighting a new crackdown on drug smuggling, the UAE recently installed new drug-sensitive detecting equipment in its airports.

Grooverider, who made his name DJing at illegal warehouse parties, is recognised as a pioneer of the abrasive style of dance music known as "drum and bass". He is a recording artist and record label owner in his own right and an in-demand DJ on the international club circuit. His colleague Fabio will continue to present the Radio 1 show in his absence.

The former Radio 1 DJ Kevin Greening died of a heart attack last year, aged 44, after taking large quantities of cocaine, ecstasy and the drug GHB.

Source: The Times
Copyright: 2008, The Times
Contact: Sonia Verma, Bahrain and Adam Sherwin
Website: Radio 1 DJ Grooverider given four-year jail term for cannabis smuggling - Times Online
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