Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Former champion boxer James Thomas O'Donnell jailed for drugs smuggling

A former champion boxer has been jailed for running an international drugs smuggling ring

James Thomas O'Donnell (24) whose address was given as care of Maghaberry Prison, was jailed for four and a half years yesterday at Londonderry Crown Court.

The court heard that before turning to drugs and drug dealing, O’Donnell won five Ulster boxing titles and was twice an All-Ireland finalist.

His co-defendant, Jamie Anthony Doherty (22) from Glenside Gardens in Derry, was jailed for three years and nine months.

Both men will serve half of their sentence without remission and half on licence when they're released from jail.

The defendants pleaded guilty to a combined total of 14 charges linked to the importing, possessing and supplying quantities of cocaine, 4-Mec, and diazepam, between August 2011 and October 2012.

The 4-Mec was imported from China and payment was made to the drugs supplier via a Spanish bank account.

The pair were caught on October 11, 2012, when O'Donnell was arrested for an unrelated matter.

When in the police station he was overheard telling his brother to clear out his house.

 As a result of that remark the property was searched and police found drug paraphernalia including dealing bags and weighing scales.

Also in the same month a package from China, addressed to O'Donnell, was intercepted by staff at the Parcel Force depot in Coventry. It contained 1 kilo of 4-Mec contained in a heat sealed plastic bag and had a street value of £20,000.

Between September 2011 and February 2012 forensic accountants discovered that more than £30,000 had been moved through O'Donnell's bank account and that of his girlfriend.

As a result of the forensic examination of Doherty's computer and mobile phone, the police found e-mails and text messages which showed he was looking for sellers and that he was involved in drugs supplying. Jailing both men Judge Philip Babington said he noted that O'Donnell started using drugs in 2010.

Before then he had a healthy lifestyle and was a champion boxer with a bright future.

Describing O'Donnell as intelligent, Judge Babington said he discovered how easy it was to order drugs online and he sourced a supply mainly from China.

“It seems that he got a reputation and there was a high demand for 4-Mec and he sold to others who then sold to consumers”, the judge said.

In relation to Doherty, Judge Babington said he was a cocaine and methadone addict who became involved with O'Donnell because “he was in awe of the lifestyle which involvement in drugs had afforded O'Donnell and he thus became involved”.

Judge Babington said O'Donnell was “the leader of his own particular organisation.

“It may not be particularly large in numbers nor might it be making vast quantities of money, but it has undoubtedly made money for him in the past and there is absolutely no evidence at all that he is taking orders or instructions from anyone else.”

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