A man accused of being involved in a £1.8million cocaine ring claimed he is ”a very good friend” – with footballer David James, a court heard.
Satellite engineer Jason Payne, 38, made the boast after he was arrested for being part of conspiracy to supply the drug.
Police spent six months secretly watching Payne and three co-accused and eventually arrested them following a raid on a property, a jury was told.
They are currently standing trial which has now heard Payne claims to be close to England and Bristol City goalkeeper David James, 39.
The court was told that during an initial police interview Payne was asked ‘who his friends were?’.
He responded: ”David James, the goalie, he’s a very good friend of mine.”
Payne lives in Teignmouth, Devon, seven miles from James’ country mansion in Chudleigh, near Newton Abbot.
He is currently on trial at Exeter Crown Court alongside three other men accused of running a ”sophisticated” cocaine ring.
Payne and his co-accused all deny the charges, which relate to the supply of cocaine between July 2008 and November 2009.
He is standing trial alongside Gerard Kirwan, 37, of Torquay, Devon, Matthew Deny, 45, of Exeter, Devon, and Jon Moreton, 38, from Coventry in the West Midlands.
Police logged 703 calls and texts during a six-month period until the arrest of the defendants, who they believed were members of a drugs gang.
The jury heard that drugs with a street value of £1.8million were seized after police raided a property in June last year.
Alongside the drugs they found a 10-tonne hydraulic press allegedly used by the gang to process the drugs for sale.
Payne told the court that his dealing with Deny, the alleged ringleader of the gang, and the other co-accused had all been ”business related”.
He claimed he had only met Kirwan and Moreton in the dock and his only contact with Deny was when he fitted TV equipment for him.
During the trial on Monday, defence barrister Siobhan Molly asked Payne: ”Are you concerned in the supply of cocaine?”.
Payne replied: ”Never”.
She asked: ”Have you ever taken cocaine?”. Payne responded: ”Never in my life.”
Prosecutor Paul Grumbar said the gang used a courier from Torquay to drive to Coventry, where he would meet Moreton and pick up 2kg packages of the drug each time.
He said: ”Police started an investigation into a number of individuals suspected of supplying and distributing cocaine in Devon and Cornwall.
”The case is that the cocaine was obtained by these gang members from Coventry.”
All four men deny conspiracy to supply cocaine. The trial continues.