Former 'Come Dine With Me' Winners Convicted in Cannabis Smuggling Operation

Panayiotou was sentenced to four years and one month in prison while Attard was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 12 months

Two former winners of Come Dine With Me, Nicholas Panayiotou and Eleanar Attard, have been convicted of involvement in a drug smuggling operation, along with three others, after a failed attempt to bring 58kg of cannabis into London from America.

The Metropolitan Police revealed that the smuggling plot was thwarted following a theft at a London airport. Panayiotou and Attard, who appeared on Channel 4's Come Dine With Me: The Professionals, were implicated in the scheme, which involved stealing suitcases and passports from two women who had arrived from Los Angeles. CCTV investigations led authorities to the suspects, including Panayiotou and Attard, whose car was linked to the incident.

Constantinos Zavros (Metropolitan Police/PA)

When police attempted to arrest Koby Haik at his residence, he brandished a baseball bat and fired two shots from an imitation firearm before being apprehended. Examination of Panayiotou's phone revealed incriminating evidence of a wider conspiracy involving the theft and importation of cannabis. The WhatsApp group chat discussed plans to smuggle the drugs into the UK and subsequently steal them from unwitting importers. Additionally, videos found on Panayiotou's phone depicted large quantities of cannabis, further implicating the group.

Three other individuals identified in the WhatsApp group - Constantinos Zavros, Luke Wileman, and Koby Haik - were also involved in the conspiracy. Zavros, connected to the drug suppliers in the US, and Wileman, who provided advice on selling the drugs, were arrested last April and July, respectively. Zavros received a sentence of six years and eleven months, while Haik was sentenced to seven years in prison. Panayiotou was sentenced to four years and one month. Attard, charged with theft of suitcases and passports, received a suspended sentence of eight months, along with a 12-month probationary period and community service.

Met Detective Chief Inspector Inderjit Kaur said: “This investigation highlights some fantastic detective work by Met Police officers to identify and uncover a dangerous group involved in drugs importation and supply, which we know can have a terrible effect on local communities.

“We also saw incredible bravery and professionalism from TSG officers who were shot at as they arrested one of the suspects.

“Thankfully, only blanks were fired, but thanks to this investigation, a dangerous weapon is off the streets and a group of dangerous criminals are now behind bars.”

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