Ex-EastEnders actress 'tried to smuggle cocaine in a suitcase'

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A former EastEnders actress tried to smuggle nearly three kilos of cocaine into the UK by hiding it in the bottom of a suitcase, a court heard. 

Leanne Lakey, 39, is accused of  plotting with Dean Shanahan, 47, to sneak the drugs past Customs officers at Gatwick airport on December 12 last year. The cocaine was allegedly hidden in the base of Shanahan’s case as Lakey travelled with him. 

She starred as Belinda Slater in EastEnders between 2001 and 2003, while at the same time playing the role of Charlotte Day in another TV series, Family Affairs. 

Her character was brought back to EastEnders last year but Lakey was dropped from the role in favour of another actress. 

Lakey, from Chelmsford, trained at the Arts Educational School in  Chiswick and has also appeared in The Bill, Holby City and Casualty.

She appeared at Croydon crown court alongside Shanahan to face the drug smuggling charge. 

Wearing a baggy grey top and  leggings, she pleaded not guilty to “evading a prohibition on importing class A drugs”. 

Shanahan, from Kingsbury, denied the same charge. 

Judge Adam Hiddleston freed them on bail until their trial, due to start on December 18. 

He ordered them to live and sleep at their home addresses, and put  Shanahan on a 10pm to 7am curfew.Lakey was said to work in a restaurant in Chelmsford and also spend time at her boyfriend’s home in Bedford. The judge said she could have some nights in Bedford in the lead-up to her trial.

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