Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Wednesday, 21 May 2008 13:57 UK

80m Irish cocaine trial begins

Packets of cocaine float in the water beside the rescue boat
Packets of cocaine float in the water beside a rescue boat

Three men have gone on trial in Cork charged over the biggest drugs seizure in Irish history.

About 1.5 tonnes of cocaine, worth more than 80m, was recovered from the sea off the west Cork coast last July.

Perry Wharrie, 48, of Pryles Lane, Essex and Joe Daly, 41, of Carisbrook Avenue, Bexley, deny possessing cocaine for sale or supply.

Martin Wanden, 45, of no fixed address, also known as Anthony Claud Linden, also denies the charge.

The Irish State has put more than 400 witnesses on stand-by for the trial, which is expected to last several weeks.

The cocaine haul was discovered accidentally.

On 2 July last year, a stranger ran into a farmhouse near Mizen Head in west Cork looking for help for a companion with whom he had been fishing, he claimed, when their boat overturned in rough seas.

The farmer called the emergency services who saved the man's life but they also recovered 61 suspicious packages floating in the water around the up-turned rigid inflatable boat.





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