The former boxing wold champion Herbie Hide has ended in jail for selling cocaine after the court heard about he was caught red-handed by a newspaper sting.
The Sun newspaper on Sunday reported that their reporter Mazher Mahmood managed to get cocaine arranged by Herbie Hide after a series of meetings at a hotel near Norwich earlier this year.
During the court hearing at the Cambridge Crown Court, all the defense had were the use of “entrapment” tactics to corner the 42-year-old.
The defense tried to argue that Herbie Hide was forced into the position by the reporter and he had no choice but somehow manage to supply them with cocaine.
Hide, of Bawburgh, near Norwich, admitted conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
Judge Mark Lucraft QC sentenced the boxer, who has previous convictions including criminal damage, battery, threatening behaviour and carrying a knife, to 22 months in prison.
He said he had reduced the sentence, partly because of the “sting element”.
Adam Budworth, mitigating for Hide, said Mr Mahmood and his assistant had pursued his client “relentlessly” despite his attempts to remove himself from the encounter.
A friend of Hide described the boxer in a statement read to the court as a “pubescent boy in a grown man’s body”. Hide’s adoptive father, Alan Hide, said his son had learning difficulties.
Prosecutor Chris Youell described how Mr Mahmood, dubbed the Fake Sheikh because of his technique of acting as a wealthy Arab, originally targeted Hide as part of an investigation into fight-fixing.
He added: “The whole thing comes about because of the interest shown by journalists in Mr Hide, in particular because of his local and to some extent national celebrity because of his success in the sporting arena.
“At the time he was planning a comeback and was contacted by reporters from The Sun seeking to expose the supposed fact he was prepared to fix fights for money.”
Hide met Mr Mahmood, who had adopted his sheikh persona, in a room at the Sprowston Manor Hotel in January.
The court heard Mr Mahmood talked about the lack of “good quality” cocaine in Norwich, and Mr Hide “volunteered” that cocaine was available and offered to get some.
Hide arranged for co-defendant Ben Sharman to obtain four grammes of cocaine worth £400 which he then handed over to the reporter.
When tested, the drugs were found to be “absolute rubbish” containing 0.1498 grammes of pure cocaine.
Sharman, 22, of Poringland, near Norwich, also admitted conspiracy to supply the class A drug, two counts of offering to supply drugs and an unrelated burglary. He was jailed for 20 months.
Hide held the World Boxing Organisation version of the heavyweight title twice.