A 56-YEAR-OLD woman helped her husband in a scheme to smuggle nearly £200 million of cocaine into the UK, a jury was today told.

Dawn Powell, of Netherfield Road, Guiseley, is accused of paying for the yacht Makayabella, which was found with one tonne of cocaine on board when it was seized off the coast of Ireland last year, Leeds Crown Court heard.

Powell went on trial with James Hill, 30, of Hampshire Close, Ilkley, who is also accused of conspiring to import class A drugs.

The court heard the Makayabella was seized by the Irish Navy on September 23 last year. It had 1,025 2.2lb (1kg) blocks of high-purity cocaine contained in 41 packages.

Mark McKone, prosecuting, said the street value of the drugs would have been around £164 million.

Mr McKone told the court that Powell was "in it together" with her husband Stephen.

The jury, of five men and seven women, heard that Stephen Powell has already pleaded guilty to his part in the plot.

Mr McKone said: "The prosecution say that Dawn Powell and her husband Stephen Powell were involved in a scheme to import a massive amount of cocaine from South America.

"Other people, including the defendant James Hill, were also involved in the scheme.

"These two defendants are standing trial alone because other people, including Dawn Powell's husband Stephen, have pleaded guilty."

Mr McKone told the jury that two boats were used in the scheme: the Makayabella, which was bought in the Caribbean and used to bring the drugs across the Atlantic from Venezuela; and a boat called the Sea Breeze, which was harboured in Wales with the intention of meeting the Makayabella out at sea and transferring the drugs.

The court heard that Stephen Powell bought the £100,000 Makayabella in his name but the yacht was paid for in four instalments from a bank account in the sole name of his wife.

Powell also paid for flights to St Lucia for her husband and his father, John Powell, insurance for the Makayabella and a satellite phone for the yacht, the court was told.

The Sea Breeze was bought by Stephen Powell but the cash payment of £18,350 was made by his wife, Mr McKone said.

Mr McKone said: "Dawn Powell was not on either boat. She did not play the same hands-on role as her husband but the prosecution say she was part of the arrangement to import the cocaine.

"She was in it together with her husband. She knew what he was doing.

She helped him when necessary."

Mr McKone said Powell denied knowing her husband was importing drugs and thought he was buying the yacht to sell on for profit.

The court heard Hill travelled from Otley to South Wales with Stephen Powell on the day the drugs were seized from the Makayabella. The pair later travelled from Cardiff to Nottingham together and then from Nottingham to Malton, North Yorkshire.

Mr McKone said Hill's telephone, which he abandoned on September 25, made a call to the satellite phone on board the Makayabella on September 23.

The prosecutor said: "While neither of these defendants were actually out at sea, both played their own parts in this scheme to import drugs."

Both deny a charge of conspiracy to import cocaine. Powell also denies a charge of money laundering.

John Powell, Benjamin Mellor, Thomas Britteon, David Webster and Philip McElhone have all also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine, the court heard.

The trial continues.