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Loyalist bandsman jailed for £1m Belfast cocaine haul

Loyalist given 40 months after drugs and stun gun found during operation

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 22/05/2015

Mark Officer in his band uniform
Mark Officer in his band uniform
The cocaine found by police

A loyalist bandsman will serve 20 months behind bars after cocaine worth nearly £1m was seized when a car was stopped by police in Belfast.

Mark Officer (41) from Glenbryn Drive and co-accused Phillip Leslie Colville (42) from Glencairn Pass were sentenced for charges dating back to December 2013 when they appeared at Belfast Crown Court.

Officer belongs to the Pride of Ardoyne Loyalist Flute Band which featured in the BBC documentary Petrol Bombs & Peace: Welcome To Belfast shown in 2013.

Officer was handed a 40-month sentence for supplying the class A drug, while Colville was given a 12-month sentence for possessing cocaine and a stun gun in the shape of a mobile phone.

Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland told the pair that they will both serve half of their sentences in prison and half on licence.

Detective Inspector Tom McClure said: "We are delighted to have taken almost £1m worth of cocaine off the streets. We are determined to remove these dangerous substances so that they do not cause harm in communities and do not provide income to criminals."

The court heard that on December 5, 2013 police stopped a car on the slip road from the Westlink leading to the Broadway roundabout.

Both men were inside and when they were searched by police, Colville was found to be hiding around 11g of cocaine - enough for around 10 wraps - between his buttocks.

In a follow-up search of his home police found a stun gun in the shape of a mobile phone. Colville admitted possessing the drug, but denied possessing the banned weapon.

He was subsequently tried at Belfast Crown Court and found guilty by a jury of possessing the stun gun.

Police also searched a house in the Shankill area linked to Officer and found a significant amount of cocaine in various levels of purity, along with equipment associated with mixing the drug, including a hydraulic press.

Around 275 grams of cocaine located in the house was found to be of 63% purity - meaning it had not yet been cut and prepared for distribution to the public.

A prosecutor said it was the Crown's case that Officer had involved himself in mixing the drug at the address.

Sentencing both men, Judge McFarland spoke of the drugs operation which was uncovered and said that while he accepted Officer had acted under some degree of pressure, he had however involved himself in processing the drug.

The judge also ordered that all the drugs and the accompanying paraphernalia be destroyed.

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