Drug smuggler in fresh appeal attempt

A man convicted for his role in the smuggling of €440m worth of cocaine off the coast of Cork claims he should not have been convicted for sale and supply because the drugs were not destined for this country.

In 2008, Perry Wharrie, aged 56, received a 30-year prison sentence — the longest ever handed down in the State for a drugs conviction — for his part in the bungled smuggling attempt at Dunlough Bay, Mizen Head, on July 2, 2007.

Wharrie, from Loughton in Essex, England, was unanimously found guilty by a Cork Circuit Criminal Court jury over the course of a trial that lasted 42 days.

He appealed his conviction and in April 2013, the appeal was dismissed.

He is now asking the Court of Appeal to consider certifying a new appeal to the Supreme Court on the basis that he has an important point of law of exceptional public importance to raise.

Yesterday, Mr Justice John MacMenamin, dealing with the application in the Appeal Court, directed the parties to prepare submissions for a hearing date later.

He declined to make an order for the production of Wharrie before the court for the hearing because, he said, of previous difficulties of getting him from prison to court on time for the hearing. He said Wharrie could give evidence from prison by video link.

The appeal will centre on the net point of whether he should have been charged with the offence of having the drug for sale and supply because it was not destined for this country and could only be an offence in this country on that basis.

The DPP is opposing the application for certification of a new appeal.

Wharrie and his co-accused were arrested by gardaí after their rigid inflatable boat carrying 1.5 tonnes of cocaine got into difficulties off the Cork coast, when one of its petrol engines was filled with diesel. This caused the craft to sink in rough seas.

The cocaine had been transferred to their boat from a Catamaran after a rendezvous 30 miles out to sea.

Lifeboat crews who came to the aid of the sinking boat found 65 bales of cocaine.

Customs officials who went to Dunlough Bay came across Wharrie and another man making their way up from the cliffs.

Claims conviction erroneous as €440m cocaine haul was not destined for this country


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