Belfast Telegraph

Convicted drug dealer joins DUP on election campaign trail

Convicted drug dealer Mark Officer with DUP candidate Gillian Simpson. Credit: Gillian Simpson
Convicted drug dealer Mark Officer with DUP candidate Gillian Simpson. Credit: Gillian Simpson

A convicted drug dealer has joined the DUP on the campaign trail ahead of next month's local government elections.

Mark Officer, has been pictured canvassing with the party's Oldpark candidates Dale Pankhurst and Gillian Simpson.

He also signed Mrs Simpson's nomination forms as she hopes to win a seat on Belfast City Council.

Officer was sentenced to 20 months in prison in 2015 after cocaine worth nearly £1m was seized when a car was stopped by police in Belfast.

Police searched a house in the Shankill area linked to Officer and found a significant amount of cocaine in various levels of purity, along with equipment associated with mixing the drug, including a hydraulic press.

Around 275 grams of cocaine located in the house was found to be of 63% purity - meaning it had not yet been cut and prepared for distribution to the public.

A prosecutor said it was the Crown's case that Officer had involved himself in mixing the drug at the address.

Sentencing both men, Judge McFarland spoke of the drugs operation which was uncovered and said that while he accepted Officer had acted under some degree of pressure, he had however involved himself in processing the drug.

He served half of the sentence in prison and half on license.

A DUP spokesperson said that Officer now wanted to put his conviction behind him and give something back to the community.

"Mr Officer was previously convicted of a criminal offence for which he has expressed remorse," the spokesperson said.

"He wishes to move forward and play a positive role in the community. As part of this he has assisted DUP candidates on a voluntary basis."

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