12 months for inmate forced to smuggle drugs inside by loyalists
A man caught by a sniffer dog smuggling internally concealed drugs into Magilligan Prison has been jailed for 12 months.
Martin Nelson (37), a serving prisoner from Boyne Court in Belfast, has 211 previous criminal convictions.
He told police that when he was on home leave two members of a loyalist paramilitary organisation had ordered him to bring the drugs into the jail on May 6, 2014.
Nelson, who declined to name the two terrorists and declined to name the inmates he was to give the drugs to, was taken into a care and supervision room inside Magilligan by warders after the dog had detected the drugs. He was searched, but nothing was found.
The following day in his cell he pointed out to staff a towel on a shelf. Wrapped inside the towel the officers found five packets containing 90 milligrams of the class A drug fentanyl, 48 diazepam tablets, 112 anabolic steroid tablets and 40 grams of cannabis resin.
Defence barrister Eoghan Devlin told Londonderry Crown Court that Nelson immediately admitted his guilt to police.
He said it had taken almost two years to have the identity of the drugs confirmed by forensic scientists.
Mr Devlin said Nelson was not a drug dealer, and had been prevailed upon by others to smuggle the items into the jail.
Jailing Nelson for 12 months, Judge Philip Babington said he took into consideration the defendant's early guilty pleas of possessing and possessing with intent to supply the drugs, and the delay in finalising the case.
"The delay in this case is both appalling and unforgivable," he said.
"It does nothing for the judicial system and it does nothing for defendants, nor does it do anything for injured parties."
Judge Babington told Nelson: "The amount of drugs you concealed on your person is quite large compared to what I have seen brought into prison and you did so in a way which may well have harmed your own health.
"Drugs in prison form a currency value 10 times greater than that at street level.
They make prisoners more difficult to deal with, thereby putting the prison officers in danger."
Nelson will be electronically tagged for 30 days after his release.