Belfast Telegraph

Jailed: man who smuggled £800k of drugs over border

By George Jackson

An international drugs smuggler who enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, a luxury car and had deposits on two houses, despite being bankrupt, has been jailed for seven years.

Mark William McPhillips secretly drove £800,000 worth of herbal cannabis in to Londonderry last year after importing the haul in to the Republic of Ireland.

Yesterday, he pleaded guilty to nine charges linked to the discovery of 40kg of cannabis found hidden in kitchen cupboards in the back of a rented van stopped by the PSNI's Organised Crime Branch at Glengalliagh Road on May 14 last year.

McPhillips (34) from Elmvale in the Culmore area of Derry, had 32 previous convictions, nine of them for drugs offences.

He also admitted possessing Class A MDMA drugs found in the engine compartment of his BMW X5 off-road vehicle.

He further admitted converting criminal property by putting down deposits of £14,000 and £10,000 to buy houses at College Glen and Bloomfield Park in Derry.

And he also admitted converting criminal property by paying €25,000 (almost £21,000) for the BMW X5 and guilty to transferring unexplained lodgements totalling £76,224 in to his bank.

McPhillips committed all the offences between June 2006 and June of last year.

Judge Babington said despite his admissions, McPhillips still withheld information about his activities from the police.

Inside the rented van, police found the drugs wrapped in plastic bags, which contained a sender's address in Amsterdam and a delivery address in Frenchpark, Co Roscommon.

McPhillips picked up the consignment of drugs from a contact near Sligo town before driving the van across the border.

Judge Babington said McPhillips, a bankrupt and separated father-of-two, had been caught red-handed and he dismissed the defendant's assertion that he was a courier.

The judge said McPhillips had failed to account for visits to Amsterdam and Spain shortly before he was caught, and he also failed to explain mobile phone contacts to and from both countries.

He added that confiscation proceedings in relation to McPhillip's properties and assets would start next January. After his prison release, McPhillips will have to notify the police of all of his financial dealings for a five-year period.

Detective Superintendent Andrea McMullan said: "The people of Derry and further afield are safer today thanks to this prison sentence."

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