The opening of the biggest drug trial in the history of the state got underway today with prosecuting senior counsel Tom Creed claiming that the cocaine seized in West Cork last year was found to be 75% pure, giving it a value of €440m and not €108m as originally thought.
Three Englishmen, Perry Wharrie, aged 48, of 60 Pryles Lane, Essex, England, Joseph Daly, aged 41 from 9 Carisbrook Avenue, Bexley, Kent, and Martin Wanden, aged 45, of no fixed abode, all deny the charges of possessing cocaine, possessing it with intent to sell or supply, and having it for sale or supply when its street value exceeded €13,000 on July 2 2007 at Dunlough Bay, Mizen, Goleen in Co Cork.
Prosecution senior counsel, Tom Creed, gave the jury an outline of what the State anticipated the evidence would be in the course of the ten-week trial. “The prosecution say this was a joint enterprise, there will be a lot of circumstantial evidence,” he said.
At the outset Mr Creed revised the original estimate of the drugs that was widely reported at €108m. “Cocaine is regularly cut with some other innocuous substance so the drug dealer can make more money from it. The purity of the cocaine that is generally found on the street would be 12 to 15% pure. This cocaine was 75% pure. The prosecution say a realistic value for the cocaine would be €440m,” he said.
“The story begins in this case on July 2, 2007. On that morning a young man called to Michael O’Donovan and his mother’s farm near Dunmanus Bay. This man, calling himself Gerard O’Leary pointed towards Dunmanus Bay and informed Mr O’Donovan that three people had been on a boat that sank, one got ashore and one was in the water needing help.
“The immediate concern was to get the man out of the water. The winds were force five or six, more or less gale force, serious weather to be out in a boat. Eventually, a man was fished out of the water. The prosecution say that man was Martin Wanden.
“He was brought to hospital, as was Mr O’Leary, suffering from cold and hypothermia. Mr O’Leary gave his name as Gerard O’Leary. He was not Gerard O’Leary. He was Gerard Hagan,” Mr Creed said.
61 bales of cocaine were retrieved from the water in the couple of days after the sinking of the rib and a 62nd bale was recovered much later.
Mr Creed SC said two defendants, Daly and Wharrie, were arrested two days later in a disheveled state in Schull, Co Cork.
The prosecution senior counsel described it as a major logistical operation and he said the prosecution case would call a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence. He said the State case was that a boat came across the Atlantic to rendezvous 30 miles south west of Mizen.
The case continues.