Lower sentence sought over role in €440m drugs haul

A decision will be made next month in the case of an Englishman who successfully appealed his 30-year prison sentence for his role in the biggest drug seizure in the history of the State.

Perry Wharrie, aged 56, was given what his lawyers have described as the “highest sentence in the history of he State” for his role in the record €440m drugs haul at Dunlough Bay on the Mizen Peninsula, West Cork, on July 2, 2007.

In July last year, the Court of Criminal Appeal found a judge had erred in sentencing Wharrie to 30 years imprisonment.

Wharrie, from Loughton, in Essex, had pleaded not guilty to possession of the drugs for sale or supply.

He was unanimously found guilty by a Cork Circuit Criminal Court jury and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin on July 23, 2008.

Two of Wharrie’s accomplices, who also pleaded not guilty, were sentenced to 30 years and 25 years for the same offence. A fourth who pleaded guilty got 10 years.

Counsel for Wharrie, Michael O’Higgins said a “radical departure” from the sentence of 30 years was what was required.

“On the July 2, 2007 (when the) sentence was received, there was no evidence to suggest that my client was a leader,” he said.

The court heard Wharrie is a married man with three children and that his wife, continues to visit him on a monthly basis.

Referring to sentencing law in Ireland, Mr O’Higgins said that in the case of (John) Gilligan, he was the “leader of the gang” and got 20 years and the evidence showed transactions of enormous magnitude on a weekly basis.

Speaking on behalf of the DPP, Imelda Kelly said: “The court is more than aware of the seriousness of this offence and the sophistication of this operation.”

Mr Justice McMenamin said a decision would be made on February 15.


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