Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 16:04 UK

440m cocaine trio given 85 years

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

Three English men convicted over the seizure of 440m euros of cocaine have been jailed for a total of 85 years.

Perry Wharrie, 48, Martin Wanden, 45, and Joe Daly, 41, were convicted of possessing the drugs off the west Cork coast on 2 July 2007.

Wharrie and Wanden were each sentenced to 30 years imprisonment. Daly was given a 25-year jail term.

The court heard Wharrie was jailed for life in 1989 for the murder of an off-duty police officer.

The 48-year-old, from Pryles Lane, Essex, was released on licence in 2005 but failed to adhere to the condition of his probation and is now wanted by British authorities who have issued a European arrest warrant for him.

The court also heard that Wanden, 45, of no fixed abode has a number of previous convictions, including a conviction in France in 2003 for drug smuggling for which he was jailed for two years in his absence.

Daly, 41, from Carisbrook Avenue, Bexley, Kent, has a number of convictions for minor offences.

'Dedicated'

A judge said the three were committed and dedicated to "this criminal act".

He said there was no evidence that any of them suffered from any addiction and that they were prepared to deal in death and destruction for money.

They were arrested after their boat, carrying about 1.5 tonnes of cocaine, capsized.

During the 42-day trial, the court heard "some idiot" had put diesel into the engine instead of petrol.

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 upturned rigid inflatable boat.

A Garda detective said the three accused were operating on behalf of organised crime groups, based in the UK and Spain.

They had the task of movement and storage of drugs into the Irish jurisdiction but the drugs were not destined for the Irish market, he said.





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