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Drug dealer Alex King who faked Novichok poisoning in Salisbury jailed for 11 years

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A dealer who wrongly claimed he had been poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok has been jailed for 11 years for supplying drugs.

Alex King, 42, was absent for the sentencing on Friday, having gone on the run last year after a string of failed attempts to avoid justice, including claiming he had been the target of a Russian murder plot when he collapsed in a Salisbury restaurant in September. 

The claim came six months after a genuine Novichok attack in the town on ex-soviet spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. 

A month before the scheme, King and his wife Anna Shapiro 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.

His “bizarre” party lifestyle was laid bare in Southwark Crown Court, which heard he sold drugs, including cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine, and arranged high-class escorts, including his wife, to make money.

Alex King (right) and Baljit Gill have both been sentenced for drug dealing. (PA)

No hint was given in court to King’s whereabouts as he was sentenced to 11 years in his absence on Friday after 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.

The court heard he was last seen leaving a flat with his wife near Harley Street, in central London, on December 17 last year.

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

Officers found a block of 90 per cent 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.

Police in Salisbury (Getty Images)

King had taken photographs and videos of drugs and himself with his merchandise, which were found on his mobile phone.

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.

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”.

The court heard how he feigned injury and illness to avoid his trial and on the evening of September 16 last year collapsed in the Salisbury Prezzo restaurant, where he was having dinner with Ms Shapiro.

He was rushed to hospital, but released three days later after doctors found no poison, toxin or immediately obvious neurological reason to explain his symptoms.

Wiltshire Police said the force’s investigation is still ongoing into the incident at Prezzo.

The judge started proceedings to confiscate the pair’s criminal cash, warning King’s absence from court would not work in his favour.

He said: “If anyone in court does happen to know his whereabouts, that means that over the the next few months the prosecution are going to make investigations, estimate how much money has been made by this dealing, make an indication of what the defendants’ benefit has been from this drug dealing and an assessment of their realisable assets.

“If the defendant is not here to explain what he owns or doesn’t own, it may not be to his advantage.”

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