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'Trusted lieutenant' jailed over £100k Belfast cocaine seizure

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Ryan McCrory was informed his sentence will be divided between a year in custody and a year on licence (stock photo)

Ryan McCrory was informed his sentence will be divided between a year in custody and a year on licence (stock photo)

Ryan McCrory was informed his sentence will be divided between a year in custody and a year on licence (stock photo)

A 'trusted lieutenant' who was caught with cocaine and bundles of cash during a police search was handed a two-year sentence on Tuesday.

Ryan McCrory, from Bloomfield Street in Belfast, appeared at Belfast Crown Court via a videolink with Maghaberry, where he was informed his sentence will be divided between a year in custody and a year on licence.

McCrory's barrister Joe Brolly said his 33-year old client only became involved in the drugs operation because of debts he accrued due to a "pathological addiction" to gambling.

The father-of-two pleaded guilty to three offences arising from the police search, which was carried out on November 27 last year under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

He admitting possessing cocaine with intent to supply, possessing cannabis with intent and possessing criminal property namely £22,350.

When officers searched the property, bundles of cash were located along with quantities of cocaine and two kilograms of herbal cannabis.

Cash was found in a black rucksack, while several separate quantities of cocaine were located - including 650 grams with a 74% purity found in the kitchen.

Police also seized the the cutting agent benzocaine along with scales and other drugs paraphernalia. When arrested, McCrory told police "you picked a good day to come".

During Tuesday's sentencing, Judge Stephen Fowler QC said the cocaine was valued at around £100,000. He added that due to the presence of the cutting agent and the quantities of the Class A drug, he felt McCrory was a "trusted lieutenant" as opposed to simply storing the drugs, and that the cocaine was "being cut for onward supply."

Defence barrister Joe Brolly said there was "no suggestion" that McCrory had prior involvement with drugs, and that he only became involved after borrowing cash from "black market money lenders" due to his gambling addiction.

As he sentenced McCrory, Judge Fowler spoke of the "tragedy and pain" Class A drugs such as cocaine bring to people, which he branded as "dreadful."

Saying he was taking into account McCrory's early plea, lack of relevant record and rehabilitative steps he has taken whilst in custody, Judge Fowler imposed the two-year sentence and ordered the destruction of all the drugs seized.

Belfast Telegraph