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Three men jailed over role in cocaine supply ring

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Three men involved in a cocaine wholesale and retail supply ring have been handed sentences totalling 11 years at Craigavon Crown Court

Three men involved in a cocaine wholesale and retail supply ring have been handed sentences totalling 11 years at Craigavon Crown Court

Three men involved in a cocaine wholesale and retail supply ring have been handed sentences totalling 11 years at Craigavon Crown Court

Three men involved in a cocaine wholesale and retail supply ring have been handed sentences totalling 11 years at Craigavon Crown Court.

Cocaine wholesaler James Cassidy (44) was handed a five and a half year sentence, "retailer" Peter Rogers (46) a 38-month sentence and "storekeeper" John Darragh (42) received 28 months. Each will serve half their sentence in jail and half out on licence.

Prosecuting lawyer Ian Tannahill has earlier told the court that when police swooped on Cassidy's home on October 11, 2018, they seized a kilo of high purity cocaine, £20,000 in cash and two top of the range cars, an Audi A4 and a Range Rover Evoque.

He said that with the police helicopter hovering above the Cassidy's home at Mount Eagles Grove in Dunmurry and recording the entire incident, cops smashed the cocaine supply ring while a deal was taking place.

As officers ran into the living room, Cassidy dropped a half kilo bag of cocaine which "burst open" covering the floor, and Mr Tannahill said a further half kilo bag was uncovered during searches of the property.

Cassidy and his wife, mother-of-three Joanne (44), were arrested along with delivery driver Darragh.

A fourth man, Rogers, from Badgers Lane in Belfast, had made a break for freedom in his van but was quickly arrested.

Police found he had £500 cash on him with a further £18,000 in cash hidden in a TK Maxx bag in the passenger seat footwell.

A search of the Cassidy home uncovered £20,000 cash in a holdall in the couple's bedroom along with scales, plastic bags and "heat sealing equipment" while a police operation at Darragh's home on Moor Park Mews in Belfast uncovered almost a kilo of high grade cocaine.

Mr Tannahill said the cocaine purity levels ranged from 40% to almost 80% although officers also found equivalent amounts of benzocaine, a commonly used cutting agent used to bulk out the drug and maximise profit.

"We say that the significance of the high purity levels, especially when associated with the cutting agent - when one looks at that you can see how much cocaine was going to be put in the market through this operation," said the lawyer.

Ascribing roles to each of the defendants, Mr Tannahill told Judge Lynch the "prosecution case quite simply is that the Cassidy home was being used to sell cocaine on a wholesale basis".

Rogers was there to buy drugs at this level of purity, Darragh "has a storekeeper role" and kept the cocaine until being told "where and when" to bring it.

Cassidy admitted having cocaine with intent to supply, concealing criminal property and converting criminal property, namely cash. His wife pleaded guilty to converting criminal property.

Darragh admitted two counts of possessing Class A cocaine with intent to supply while Rogers confessed to being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

While Judge Lynch jailed the men, he gave Mrs Cassidy a two year jail sentence, suspended for three years. Jailing her husband and his two cohorts, Judge Patrick Lynch said given that the usual purity of cocaine at street dealing level is around 8%, "the two kilos would've been more in the region of 12 kilos".

Belfast Telegraph