An Elton John tribute singer and part-time magician told jurors he had no idea there was a kilo of cocaine in one of his stage lights.

Colin Lowe, 57, described as ‘completely honest’ by a fellow member of the Magic Circle Scotland, was stopped on the A34 in Oxfordshire on February 13, a jury at Oxford Crown Court heard yesterday (August 15).

Stashed inside a stage light in one of the storage boxes in the back of his Mercedes was a package containing 1,003g of cocaine and, in another set of wrappings, 992g of benzocaine – a substance used as a cutting agent for the class A drug.

From the witness box in courtroom two on Tuesday, family man Lowe told jurors he was completely unaware he was heading south with cocaine worth around £25,000 on the wholesale market and £100,000 on the street.

He was on his way to Bournemouth, where his son Christopher lives, in order to sing a number of pub gigs over Valentine’s week.

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Lowe claimed to have told an acquaintance, ‘Charlie’, whose surname he did not know and who he knew by the nickname ‘Chooks’, about his trip to the Dorset resort town while chatting with him at a social club near Glasgow the week before his trip.

“He [Chooks] told me he did a bit of business with a guy in Southampton,” Lowe said. He claimed that the man asked him to take some ‘cigarettes’ in the car when he drove south, and offered to pay £200 towards the fuel.

Lowe agreed that the man could put the cigarettes in a storage box, referring to a ‘silver box’ he had with him at the social club.

“Because I was working, he arranged to go to the studio [in his garden] and put the cigarettes in the box,” he said. The studio was unlocked, he told the jury.

Asked what was in it for him, the defendant said: “Nothing. That’s the worst thing about it. I did it for nothing.” He clarified that ‘Chooks’ had offered to pay his fuel.

“I was just trying to help him out. I took his stuff for nothing, just to help him. It wasn’t about financial gain,” he said.

He accepted not telling the police about ‘Chooks’ or the cigarettes on his arrest, telling the court he was concerned about repercussions. 

The alleged drug runner was asked by his barrister, Nick Robinson: “Did you put these items in that light? Did you know that they were there? Did you know that there was cocaine and benzocaine in your vehicle?

"Did you agree to take class A drugs to Bournemouth, from Scotland to England?”

To each question he answered ‘no’.

Mr Robinson said: "We live in a sceptical world, Mr Lowe. Why should the jury accept your account?" The defendant replied: "It's the truth."

Cross-examining the defendant, prosecutor David Parvin accused the magician of ‘making up’ his defence. Lowe said he had answered no comment to questions put to him by the police in interview on the advice of his solicitor.

Oxford Mail: Colin Lowe outside Oxford Crown Court Picture: Oxford MailColin Lowe outside Oxford Crown Court Picture: Oxford Mail (Image: Oxford Mail)

Rev Mike McCurry, a church minister and a fellow member of the Magic Circle in Scotland, described his magician colleague and member of his congregation as well-liked and highly respected albeit ‘sometimes a little bit naïve or too trusting’.

Asked why he posted a £30,000 security with the court after which Lowe, who spent around a month on remand at HMP Bullingdon, was bailed, Mr McCurry said simply: “I believe him.”

William Gibson, the president of the Scottish Magic Circle club, said in a statement read by defence counsel that he had worked closely with Lowe for the last five years.

He described him as ‘completely honest’ and a man who had shown a ‘real dedication to the art of magic’.

His agent, Frank Keenan, said in a statement that Lowe was ‘charming’ and ‘polite’. Another character witness, Audrey Banks, described him as ‘most dedicated’ and ‘hardworking’.

Ilker Ucan, whose address was given as Prince of Wales Road, Bournemouth, said he had known the defendant for ‘the best part of four to five years’ having been introduced by Lowe’s son.

He said Colin Lowe was a man of ‘exemplary professionalism as a performer (Elton John tribute)’ and confirmed he had booked the defendant to perform in Bournemouth during the week of Valentine’s Day.

Lowe, of Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, denies possession with intent to supply class A drugs. The trial continues.