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Man caught with 900 pills up his backside after being unable to walk properly

Clueless crook who tried to smuggle 900 pills into prison hidden up his backside was caught because he 'couldn't walk properly'

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Liam Clarke (25) from Dunmurry, jailed for smuggling drugs into Maghaberry prison.

Liam Clarke (25) from Dunmurry, jailed for smuggling drugs into Maghaberry prison.

Maghaberry Prison

Maghaberry Prison

PA

Liam Clarke (25) from Dunmurry, jailed for smuggling drugs into Maghaberry prison.

A man who hid nearly 1,000 pills plus other drugs up his backside to smuggle them into prison has been jailed for seven months.

Dopey jailbird Liam Clarke (25) was caught with the drugs on his return to prison after being granted compassionate bail to attend a funeral.

The Belfast man was on his way back to Maghaberry Prison when guards "suspected he was trafficking substances inside his person", Craigavon Crown Court was told.

A jail source said staff "knew fine rightly" he had something up his backside as "he couldn't walk properly".

But in court last Tuesday, prosecuting lawyer Joseph Murphy said simply that as a result of their suspicions, Clarke was put into a "dry cell for observation" on his return after Christmas 2017.

It wasn't until 10 days later on January 8, 2018, that staff had anything to observe.

"The cell was searched and staff found a number of items in the bedding including two large clear plastic wraps of yellow tablets and a clear bag of white powder and a brown resin substance," said Mr Murphy.

Later that same day, a further plastic wrapped package of white powder was uncovered "in the chamber pot," the court heard.

Clarke admitted the tablets were Diazepam, the brown resin cannabis and the white powder was pregabalin, also known as Lyrica.

Mr Murphy said that in total, Clarke had managed to hide 900 diazepam tablets, eight grams of cannabis resin and 28 grams of pregabalin powder, revealing that he has some 13 previous convictions for drug offences, and was in breach of a suspended sentence at the time of the seizure.

Although Clarke, from Cherry Walk in Dunmurry, declined to be interviewed by cops, he later pleaded guilty to having class C diazepam with intent to supply, simple possession of class B cannabis and having a medicinal product, namely pregabalin, with intent to supply.

Mr Murphy submitted that although Clarke had admitted the offences, the fact that he "abused the compassion shown to him by the High Court and his relevant record" were aggravating features.

Clarke had previously found himself in the dock alongside his own mother and another man, accused of planning a UK-wide diazepam supply network.

In 2015, Belfast Crown Court heard how cops examined more than 30,000 text messages as part of an investigation into the supply of prescription drugs into Northern Ireland from mainland UK.

Packages containing 30,000 pills were intercepted at a depot in Belfast in August 2014 after being sent from Stoke-on-Trent.

Clarke was handed a two-year sentence while his mum, 49-year-old Kelly Clarke, from Ardoyne Road in Belfast, was given a suspended jail sentence.

Last Tuesday, defence counsel Richard McConkey claimed that when he had been freed to attend the funeral, Clarke "was put under pressure" to smuggle the drugs back into the maximum security prison.

"He was on remand for more serious offences but those never even got to the committal stage," revealed the lawyer.

That "more serious offence" was an attempted murder charge arising from a man in his 20s being "repeatedly stabbed in the head and body" during an incident at Ballynafoy Close, just off the Ravenhill Road, in November 2017.

The victim received 30 stitches for knife wounds inflicted to his temple, shoulders, back and arms but charges against Clarke of attempted murder and having a weapon were later dropped.

Mr McConkey urged the judge not to send Clarke to jail for the smuggling offences, saying: "He needs guidance and support from probation, not just for his own sake but to reduce the likelihood of him coming back to court."

But jailing Clarke, Judge Patrick Lynch QC said it was clear the drugs were "obviously for distribution in the prison itself" and issued a warning that "the integrity of the prison service regarding drugs of any sort cannot be tolerated."

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