Prison for duo caught red-handed by cops in £300,000 cocaine bust
Two north Belfast men caught with more than five kilos of cocaine have been jailed.
Warren Shaw (27), from Squire's Hill in Ballysillan, admitted possession with intent to supply.
Darren Thompson (31), from Forthriver Park, also pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing the drug with intent.
Police found five kilos in a car owned by Shaw that was being transported from Thompson's house. A further half-kilo was found in Thompson's home.
Belfast Crown Court heard the cocaine had a purity of around 11% and had an estimated street value of £300,000.
Shaw claimed he was paid £1,000 by a third party to "collect and move" a package and that he did not know what was inside. Thompson, meanwhile, claimed he was acting under duress.
A barrister for Shaw told the court that his client was "paid to do a job" he knew was "dodgy" but that it was a "no questions asked scenario".
He also claimed the defendant was merely a courier and that at the time of the offence Shaw was under pressure for money due to a drugs habit that arose out of a personal tragedy.
Thompson's barrister said his client's house had been used "to store and mix the drugs to some extent", adding that a "person not before the court" was a "significant player".
He additionally revealed that there was nothing in Thompson's background to suggest any prior involvement with the illegal drugs trade.
The court also heard that both men were from settled backgrounds, were parents, had jobs and had no previous convictions for drugs offences.
Judge Gordon Kerr QC branded the seizure a "significant commercial quantity of drugs" and said the charges against the two were "extremely serious".
Shaw was handed a three-and-a-half-year sentence while Thompson was given a three-year sentence.
Before being taken from the dock the pair were told that they would serve half their sentences in prison, with the remainder spent on supervised licence upon their release.