| 15.9°C Belfast

Bankrupt drug dealer had 40kg of cannabis in his van

A bankrupt drug dealer was able to buy two houses, a BMW X5 off-road vehicle and had over £76,000 in his bank account as the result of his criminal activities, a court has heard.

The disclosure was made by a prosecution barrister in the case of Mark William McPhillips – 34-year-old separated father-of-two – who has pleaded guilty to charges linked to the discovery of 40kg of herbal cannabis in a Transit van on May 14 last year.

The prosecution believes that the street value of the drugs is £800,000 – but the defence says it is £200,000.

McPhillips, from Elmvale in the Culmore Road area of Londonderry, was driving the van when it was stopped by police at Glengalliagh Road.

McPhillips, who has previous drugs convictions, has pleaded guilty to fraudulently importing the consignment of herbal cannabis.

He has also admitted possessing the drug with intent to supply, possessing cannabis resin, possessing the class A drug MDMA, and possessing a forged Irish driving licence, all on May 14 last year.

McPhillips has also admitted three charges of converting criminal property by buying two houses, one at Bloomfield Park and one at College Glen in Derry, and buying a BMW X5 jeep. He has further pleaded guilty to transferring £76,224 of criminal property into his Ulster Bank account. McPhillips committed those offences between June 2006 and June 2012.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

A prosecution barrister told Crown Court Judge Philip Babington that when PSNI officers stopped the Transit van they asked McPhillips what was inside the vehicle. He replied: "There is grass in the rear."

Inside the police found two kitchen cupboards on pallets wrapped in black plastic covers. A sender's address from Amsterdam in Holland was found, as was a delivery address in Roscommon.

Inside the wrappings the police found 40kg of herbal cannabis. A search of McPhillip's home found 82.37g of cannabis resin. They found 1.52g of MDMA in the BMW. The prosecution barrister said the police then investigated McPhillip's financial affairs.

The barrister said the value of the drugs was £800,000 and he said "the defendant is seriously involved in the drugs trade in Northern Ireland".

The prosecution did not accept McPhillip's role was purely that of a courier.

"His previous convictions including one on August 31, 2004 for importing drugs, are not the typical record of just a courier," he said.

Defence barrister Ivor McAteer said McPhillips was declared bankrupt in November of last year.

McPhillips was remanded in continuing custody to be sentenced next Wednesday.

Top Videos