A New Zealand man who allegedly attempted to smuggle more than $8.5 million worth of cocaine into the UK in the back of a truck has been extradited.
After a hearing in the Christchurch District Court last year, Franciscus Maria Schaapveld was deported so he could face the "very serious charges" even though he was charged four years after the alleged offending.
Schaapveld moved to the UK in 1998 with his wife and three children and worked there as a long-haul truck driver for 40 years before his wife died of cancer in 2006, according to proceedings.
He told the courts this left him devastated and left him with ongoing problems with depression.
On April 21, 2012, after a long-haul trip from Europe Schaapveld was stopped at the border and the truck and trailer unit he was driving was searched.
Authorities allegedly found more than $8.5 million worth of cocaine in the trailer.
He was detained overnight, spoken to by police and released the next day.
But in June, Schaapveld decided to return to New Zealand and travelled on his normal passport and he told the court authorities were "fully aware" of him leaving the UK.
Schaapveld became a driver for Fonterra and entered a relationship in 2014 but the woman also died of cancer, reigniting his depression issues, he told the court.
He also said throughout that time, he had no contact with anyone in the UK and was not aware of any charges laid against him.
But in August 2013, Interpol in Wellington confirmed with authorities in the UK that Schaapveld was living in Christchurch.
Two years later, in June and July 2015, four of Schaapveld's alleged co-conspirators stood trial, were convicted and sentenced to a combined 80 years' imprisonment between them.
According to the Mirror, the "organised criminal network" used their "extensive knowledge and expertise in the haulage industry to smuggle cash out of the UK while bringing in Class A and B drugs".
A warrant was issued for Schaapveld's arrest in September 2015 and the application for extradition was filed with New Zealand authorities in December.
He was arrested in April last year.
In a hearing held in August, Schaapveld argued it would be "oppressive" he be extradited because of the time which had passed and the absence of any explanation as to why there was such a delay in charging.
He said as time went on and without any contact at all from any authorities in the UK or his lawyers, he believed that the matter had now come to an end.
Schaapveld said he also had established a life in New Zealand under his own name, paying taxes and caring for his elderly mother whom he was concerned about.
Judge Jane Farish said while on a humane level she thought it was unfair for Schaapveld to be deported to face serious charges after that length of time, she didn't make the law.
"I have to abide by the High Court decisions and despite the matters that Mr Schaapveld has raised they do not bring me to a point where I could legitimately say that it would be oppressive to return Mr Schaapveld to the United Kingdom."
Judge Jane Farish made an order for Schaapveld to be extradited back to the UK on August 11 last year.