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Belfast fitness outlet owner avoids prison for supplying steroids to clients

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Belfast Crown Court

Belfast Crown Court

PA Archive/PA Images

Belfast Crown Court

The owner of an east Belfast fitness outlet who supplied anabolic steroids to clients has been spared jail.

Hugh McQuade received a 16-month prison sentence, which was suspended for two years, after he admitted supplying a variety of anabolic steroids to customers over an eight-month period.

The 50-year old owner of HM Sports on the Castlereagh Road also admitted possessing criminal property amounting to just over £128,000 following a police search at his business premises in February 2018.

From Global Crescent, he appeared at a remote sitting at Belfast Crown Court via a videolink with his solicitor's office, where he was arraigned and sentenced on the same day.

McQuade's business was searched on February 19, 2018 when police seized cash, his phone and other equipment including an iPad.

These devices showed evidence that McQuade had been supplying anabolic steroids on a regular basis to clients who used his fitness facilities, between June 2017 and February 2018.

Judge David McFarland said that whilst there was a demand for anabolic steroids for body-building or to assist in the recovery of injury, they were controlled Class C drugs that are regulated "for a purpose".

This purpose, the judge said was "to provide a degree of protection to the public, given the harmful side affects that arise from taking these drugs, expect under medical supervision and for a therapeutic purpose".

The Belfast Recorder said there was no evidence that McQuade was stockpiling steroids and that the supply was "likely to reflect consumer-based demand".

Turning to the £112,030 and €1,850 seized in the premises, Judge McFarland said the cash reflected profits from the sale of the steroids, which will be the basis of a separate Proceeds of Crime investigation.

Judge McFarland cited the length of time and the quantity of the supply as aggravating factors, with the mitigating factors including a guilty plea at the first opportunity and a lack of relevant criminal record.

The Judge said he also noted the delay in the case, McQuade's settled family life and work history - as well as the impact the subsequent Proceeds of Crime investigation is going to have on his business.

McQuade was handed a suspended sentence and warned that he faced jail if he committed any further offences in the next two years.

Belfast Telegraph