BRICKLAYING brothers from Poole and a kitchen assistant from Bournemouth have appeared in court after half a tonne of cocaine with an estimated street value of £50m was allegedly found aboard a private jet.

Martin James Neil, 48, and Stephen John Neil, 53, both of whom live in Bournemouth Road, Poole, have been charged with importing cocaine, along with two Spaniards and Italian national Alessandro Iembo, 28, who currently lives in Richmond Hill, Bournemouth.

The five men were arrested after a twin-engined jet was searched when it landed at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire from Bogota in Colombia on Monday.

Border Force officers allege the drug was hidden in 15 suitcases found on board.

The men appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court for a brief preliminary hearing on Wednesday.

The Neil brothers stood side by side in the dock. Michael Neil was smartly dressed in a shirt and jacket.

The court heard he has been working on a residential project in Sandbanks.

Stephen Neil, similarly dressed to his brother, is currently not working, the court heard.

Neither brother entered a plea and they were both remanded in custody to appear next at Isleworth Crown Court in west London on March 1.

Bearded and bespectacled Iembo, who the court heard works as "kitchen staff", was also dressed in a shirt and jacket.

He spoke through an Italian interpreter to confirm his personal details. He indicated that he pleaded not guilty.

Spanish nationals Victor Franco-Lorenzo, 40, and 55-year-old Jose Ramon Miguelez-Botas also spoke through interpreters.

They too were remanded in custody to appear at Isleworth Crown Court.

Following the arrests National Crime Agency operations manager Siobhan Micklethwaite said described the alleged seizure as "major", adding that it was "one of the largest flown into the UK by plane in many years".

The aircraft crew were questioned before being released without charge.