Toy firm boss is jailed over drugs
Five years for businessman who smuggled haul from China in kids' robots
A Co Antrim businessman who was behind Northern Ireland's largest seizure of the banned drug '4-MEC' has been handed a five-year sentence.
Kristopher Darren Scott (33), a father-of-two from Frosses Road in Dunloy, smuggled the drugs in from China in a consignment of children's toys destined for his KSL Toys company.
Scott was told he will serve half the sentence in prison and half on licence after his release.
He admitted a single charge of importing the class B drug Methylethycathinone - a synthetic stimulant similar to Mephedrone - on November 27, 2013. A total of 24kgs of the drugs were found wrapped in silver packaging, making it the biggest local haul of the illegal substance here to date.
Jailing Scott, Judge Patricia Smyth told him: "This was a sophisticated, carefully planned criminal operation in which you played a leading role.
"There is no question these drugs were intended to be distributed in the community. These are very dangerous drugs that have caused serious harm, particularly to young people."
Earlier this week, Belfast Crown Court heard Scott was out to make a "quick profit" from drug smuggling - and stood to gain between £96,000 and £240,000 from the smuggled Chinese drugs.
Prosecution lawyer Robin Steer said after the drugs were seized Scott was arrested and denied knowing anything about the drugs, which were in containers for so-called "robotic fish". Scott also initially claimed the robotic fish were never part of his order for children's "ride-on-cars".
However, the court heard the drugs, from a Chinese biotech company, were paid for by nine international money transfers paid over two days in September 2013.
Mr Steer said that, according to drug trafficking experts from the National Crime Agency, the maximum retail street value would have been over £700,000, but it was agreed that Scott stood to make "somewhere between £96,000 and £240,000", given that he would be selling the drugs on to other dealers.
Mr Steer said it was the prosecution case that Scott, who has a relevant and lengthy criminal record, was the prime mover and instigator for the very large-scale importation of the drug, which he knew was made a controlled substance in 2010.
Defence QC Kieran Mallon claimed that Scott's involvement was "an isolated incident" and revealed the businessman was "ashamed and disgraced at his own behaviour and greed", acting as he had for "some opportunity to make a quick profit and money".
Scott, the barrister said, was catagorised as being a medium risk of reoffending, and was "clearly very anxious to put these matters behind him". Mr Mallon also told the court his client had shown "genuine and sincere remorse" for his wrongdoing and the effect it will have on his wife and two young children.
Judge Smyth said she accepted Scott was ashamed of his actions, and the impact his period of imprisonment will have on his family. She said: "It is a sad fact that close family members, especially children, are often the unseen victims of crime."