UK police hunt for one-legged drug kingpin last seen in Belfast

UK police hunt for one-legged drug kingpin last seen in Belfast
Richard Wakeling.

A one-legged drug kingpin is wanted after being convicted in his absence over the attempted importation of £8m (€9.1m) worth of amphetamines into the UK.

Richard Wakeling fled to Belfast in January before the start of a 12-week trial which saw him found guilty of drug offences alongside three other men, the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

The 51-year-old, from Essex in England, was sentenced today in his absence at Chelmsford Crown Court to 11 years in jail for conspiring to import drugs, the NCA added.

The discovery by Britain's Border Force of plastic drums carrying liquefied amphetamine in April 2016 sparked the NCA investigation.

Plastic drums carrying liquefied drugs discovered by Border Force on a truck driven by drugs gang member Lesley Muffett.
Plastic drums carrying liquefied drugs discovered by Border Force on a truck driven by drugs gang member Lesley Muffett.

Lorry driver Lesley Muffett had attempted to board a train through the Channel Tunnel as he transported furniture from Italy, the organisation said.

He stopped at Ternat in Belgium and phone evidence showed he was directed by fellow lorry driver Stuart Davidson to collect the drugs, the NCA said.

Wakeling, who was in contact with drug suppliers in Belgium and the Netherlands, liaised with Davidson and fellow gang member Darren Keane to arrange the journey, the organisation added.

NCA senior investigating officer Paul Green said: "These men were involved in a serious conspiracy to import a large quantity of dangerous drugs.

The truck driven by drugs gang member Lesley Muffett.
The truck driven by drugs gang member Lesley Muffett.

"We know they had links into other organised crime gangs in Europe and it is almost certain that this wasn't the first time they had done it."

The NCA, which said Wakeling, of Wharf Road in Brentwood, has family links to Thailand, appealed for information on his whereabouts.

"We strongly suspect that Wakeling fled abroad, possibly to Thailand were he has strong family links.

"But it is likely there are people here in the UK who hold clues about his movements after he arrived in Belfast on 6 January, and I'd appeal for anyone with information to come forward.

"He has a prosthetic leg and needs regular medical treatment.

"The NCA has an international reach and he should know distance isn't a barrier to us finding him. We are determined he will be returned to the UK to serve his sentence.

"Until we find him, he'll spend every day looking over his shoulder."

Keane, 34, of Kiln Drive, Milton Keynes, was jailed for nine years, Davidson, 65 of Chesham Drive, Basildon, Essex, was handed an eight-year sentence, while Muffett, 59, of Campbell Road, Witham, Essex was given six years in prison.

- PA

More in this Section

Designer baby revolution less than two years away, research suggestsDesigner baby revolution less than two years away, research suggests

Andrew urged to ‘come forward’ by woman alleging Epstein rapeAndrew urged to ‘come forward’ by woman alleging Epstein rape

Trump administration softens position on West Bank settlementsTrump administration softens position on West Bank settlements

Pair sought after four killed in California party shootingPair sought after four killed in California party shooting


Lifestyle

‘Children of the Troubles’ recounts the largely untold story of the lost boys and girls of Northern Ireland, and those who died south of the border, in Britain and as far afield as West Germany, writes Dan Buckley.Children of the Troubles: Loss of lives that had barely begun

With Christmas Day six weeks away tomorrow, preparations are under way in earnest, writes Gráinne McGuinness.Making Cents: Bargains available on Black Friday but buyer beware!

From farming practices in Europe to forest clearances in the Amazon, Liz Bonnin’s new show seeks solutions to some of the damage done by the world’s appetite for meat, writes Gemma Dunn.New show seeks solutions to some of the damage done by the world’s appetite for meat

Louis Mulcahy reads in Cork this weekend for the Winter Warmer fest, writes Colette Sheridan.Wheel turns from pottery to poetry

More From The Irish Examiner