Monday 11 December 2017

Man jailed over seizure of €440m cocaine off Cork coast loses latest appeal

Perry Wharrie
Perry Wharrie

Tim Healy

A MAN jailed over the seizure of a record €440m drugs haul off the Cork coast in 2007 has failed in the latest appeal against his sentence.

Perry Wharrie (56), Loughton, Essex, England, was jailed for 30 years - later reduced on appeal to 17 and-a-half years - over the cocaine haul at Dunlough Bay on the Mizen peninsula.

He had asked the Court of Appeal to certify an appeal to the Supreme Court on a point of law in which it was argued the offences of possession of the drugs for sale or supply had not been committed because the evidence in the case showed the cocaine was destined for another jurisdiction. 

The appeal court refused to certify an appeal saying the point had not been raised at his trial and had not been entertained in his first appeal.  Wharrie had also not shown the point of law being raised was one of exceptional public interest or that it was desirable in the public interest that such an appeal should be taken.

At his trial, Wharrie pleaded not guilty to possession of the drugs for sale or supply but was unanimously found guilty by a Cork Circuit Criminal Court jury and sentenced in 2008.

He was part of a gang who used a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) which met a catamaran from which the drugs were transferred.  The operation went awry after the transfer because diesel had been put in the RIB’s petrol engine which cut out causing the craft to flounder and sink in unseasonably rough July seas.

Lifeboat crews who came to the aid of the sinking RIB found one of Wharrie's accomplices floating in the sea encircled by 65 bales of cocaine, which was subsequently found to be 75 per cent pure.  Wharrie and another man made it ashore but both were arrested two days later.

Dismissing his application seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, Mr Justice John MacMenamin, on behalf of the three-judge appeal court, said Wharrie's counsel argued the issue that the consignment of drugs was destined for outside this jurisdiction only came to light after his conviction.  It was argued this constituted non-disclosure of material evidence at trial.

Mr Justice MacMenamin said the point was not made at the original trial or at the sentence hearing.  The court could not accept this proposition, nor could it be convincingly suggested the testimony relating to the destination of the drugs came as a bolt from the blue.

"All the circumstances, and the evidence, suggested this was the case," he said.

Wharrie also did not testify in his case, as was his entitlement, but the main plank of his case was there was not sufficient evidence to show he was part of a large international joint enterprise, the judge said.

The Court of Appeal, when dealing with Wharrie's first appeal, had also held it would not entertain this (destination of the drugs) point.

This was among the "insurmountable obstacles" Wharrie faced in this appeal along with the fact that he failed to satisfy the exceptional importance and public interest issues, the court of appeal found.

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