A UDA member has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison over a “significant’’ drug dealing operation he ran in North Down.
Ryan Andrew Tosh (35), of Kearney Gardens in Bangor, Co Down, was told in court on Friday that after his release he will spend a further 30 months on licence.
Tosh had previously pleaded guilty to seven offences committed between February and December 2018, including possessing cocaine with intent to supply, being concerned in the supply of amphetamine, and supplying herbal cannabis.
He also admitted being a member of the proscribed UDA on dates between November 1 and December 13, 2018.
Tosh was ordered to surrender himself at Laganside Court Complex on Monday, 18 January, when he will be taken to prison to serve out his sentence, less any time spent on remand.
His cousin Dean Ruberry (34), of Birch Drive in Bangor, was ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service along with three years on probation.
He was warned by a judge that if he breached that order, he would be brought back to court, re-sentenced and faced up to 20 months in jail.
Ruberry admitted offering to supply MDMA between 22 and 24 October 22, 2018, and allowing his premises to be used for the production of cocaine on dates between December 1 and December 12, 2012.
Passing sentence on the pair at Downpatrick Crown Court, Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said that although Tosh’s drug offending was confined to dates between February and December 2018, “it is apparent from his boasts on social media traffic that his involvement goes back considerably further than that’’.
The judge noted that Tosh had a previous conviction for theft, a caution for indecent behaviour and also a conviction for possession of Class B drugs in May 2017 which was “just months before the period of offending on these index offences’’.
Judge Miller said: “He chose to act as a dealer in Class A and Class B drugs in a significant way and primarily for financial gain, rather than to feed his (drug) habit.
“It has been submitted that his membership of the UDA was nothing more than a way by means to be able to continue this pernicious trade in Bangor unhindered by paramilitaries.
“Reference is made to various comments made by him to friends and associates on social media highlighting his disdain for this thuggish organisation and its leaders as being support for the proposition that he was not a committed adherent to this organisation and its spurious cause.’’
However, the judge said this was of little consequence by way of mitigation for his drug dealing activities.
“In the words of the old proverb, ‘he who sups with the Devil should have a long spoon’.’’
Judge Miller said that although it was contended that only a small proportion of Tosh’s profits went to the UDA, “any money paid to such gangsters only serves to give them some sort of quasi-legitimacy and also adds to the misery they inflict upon our society’’.
The judge added that in considering his sentence he was treating Tosh’s membership of the UDA as a “serious and aggravating feature of the defendant’s drug dealing enterprise’’.