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Professional rugby player jailed after trying to swallow 50 wraps of crack and heroin during arrest

A former public schoolboy and professional rugby player was jailed today after trying to swallow 50 packets of crack cocaine and heroin.

Police had chased Lewis Szewczyk, 27, over fences and through back gardens, eventually tackling him to the ground where they saw him trying to swallow numerous packets of drugs. 

Szewczyk, a professional rugby player for the London-Irish team, had developed an addiction to Class A drugs and turned to dealing in them to try to afford his addiction, a court heard.  

Szewczyk was held after a chase in which he vaulted two fences before being felled by a wheelbarrow

Lewis Szewczyk, 26, was filmed here being arrested in a back garden in Reading, Berkshire, following a chase in which he vaulted over two fences before being felled by a wheelbarrow

Pictured: Lewis Szewczyk was jailed today after trying to swallow 50 packets of crack cocaine and heroin

Pictured: Lewis Szewczyk was jailed today after trying to swallow 50 packets of crack cocaine and heroin

Life could not have started more promisingly for Szewczyk – he was sent to the prestigious St Paul’s Independent School for gifted boys, where he developed an outstanding skill for rugby.

While still a teenager, his prowess on the rugby pitch was such that he was handed a contract for the London Irish rugby club, a professional side based in Sunbury, Surrey. 

However, as he entered his 20s, Szewczyk developed a dark addiction for Class A drugs and turned to dealing so he could fuel his habit, leading to his arrest at the music festival Bestival.

Three years and two prison terms later, Szewczyk was filmed at his lowest point as he was taken to the ground by police officers in a garden in Avon Place, Reading, having just been compelled to cough up 50 deal bags of cocaine and heroin which he had attempted to swallow. 

After admitting to magistrates two counts of possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply and one count of possessing criminal property, Szewczyk was sent to Reading Crown Court for sentencing by a judge.

Prosecuting, Rhian Wood told how Szewczyk had come to the attention of officers from Thames Valley Police after they noticed a crowd of known drug users loitering in a residential area.

Ms Wood said: ‘Officers stayed in the vicinity for a short time and later police saw two suspected drug users making a hand-to-hand exchange with the defendant near a children’s play park.

‘The defendant tried to evade police and climbed over fences of several houses in Avon Place before he was restrained.’

Szewczyk was tasered and then forced him to cough up the bags of crack cocaine that he had already swallowed. An officer was heard saying : 'Just spit them out, spit them out.'

Szewczyk was tasered and then forced him to cough up the bags of crack cocaine that he had already swallowed. An officer was heard saying : ‘Just spit them out, spit them out.’

The suspect, whose legs looked shaky in the video, responded with a series of grunts and as a masked female officer stands next to the family shed holding a bag of crack cocaine

The suspect, whose legs looked shaky in the video, responded with a series of grunts and as a masked female officer stands next to the family shed holding a bag of crack cocaine

Szewczyk was filmed by Lokman Ali, who was at home with his 15-month-old son at the time when the police chase spilled into their garden. Footage showed him on the ground being encouraged by officers to spit out the deal bags, which he had been chewing in an attempt to swallow them.

Lokman Ali (pictured), 33, watched the drama unfold with his young son in Reading, Berks

Lokman Ali (pictured), 33, watched the drama unfold with his young son in Reading, Berks

In the footage, officers could be heard saying: ‘Just spit them out, spit them out, there’s loads coming out of your mouth. Another 20 is not going to make any difference to the amount we’ve got, do you understand? It won’t make any difference now, to you.’

Appearing by prison video link at Reading Crown Court, the burly defendant answered the court clerk courteously, calling her ‘madam’ as he confirmed his name and the charges against him.

Defending, James McCrindall said: ‘He is a man now aged 27 years who comes from a very good and stable home, living with his parents and an older sister.

‘He was fortunate enough to get what he describes as a very good education. He attended the St Paul’s school, a good private school and it was at that school that he had the good fortune to develop a great skill for rugby, playing that sport at a very high level.

‘His talent was so great as a young teenager that he ended up getting a contract with the London Irish rugby club, a well known league club. So all is going extremely well for this young man but that career is cut short for him because of, it seems, quite s severe injury to both his knees.’

Mr McCrindall asked Mr Recorder Murphy to adjourn the sentencing hearing so a pre-sentence report could be prepared which could explore options other than immediate custody.

Lewis Szewczyk, a professional rugby player for the London-Irish team, had developed an addiction to Class A drugs and turned to dealing in them to try to afford his addiction, Reading Crown Court heard (file photo)

Lewis Szewczyk, a professional rugby player for the London-Irish team, had developed an addiction to Class A drugs and turned to dealing in them to try to afford his addiction, Reading Crown Court heard (file photo)

The court heard Szewczyk had previously been arrested at the Bestival music festival on the Isle of Wight with Class A drugs which he was intending to sell.

Szewczy had received a two-year suspended sentence once before in 2017 for drug dealing and last year had been jailed for two years for possessing a knife in a public place, the judge was told.

Sentencing, the judge told Szewczyk: ‘Your activities were in broad daylight close a children’s playground.

‘Despite your considerable efforts, after a chase police officers were able to apprehend and restrain you. During a struggle, you tried to swallow some of your drug deals, you seemed determined to do this despite the obvious risks to your own safety.

‘It was only due to the professionalism of the officers that this was unsuccessful.

‘It has been suggested to me that I should adjourn your case for a pre-sentence report to explore other options. That submission is misconceived and only an immediate custodial sentence can be imposed today.’

Szewczyk, of no fixed abode, was jailed for 28 months and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of just under £200.


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