Judge David Anderson yesterday criticised the DPP for bringing charges against the accused men, over 42 days after their initial appearance before a court.
A Cloverhill District Court remand hearing was told the four accused were earlier yesterday charged with another offence related to the discovery of 61 bales of cocaine washed up at Dunlough Bay, Mizen Head, Co Cork, on July 2 last. The estimated value of the drugs seizure is €107m.
The four are Perry Wharrie, aged 47, of Pryles Lane, Loughton, Essex; Joseph Daly, aged 40, of Carrisbrooke Avenue, Bexley, Kent; Gerard Hagan, aged 23, of Hollowcroft, Liverpool; and Martin Wanden, aged 44, of no fixed address.
Under the DPP’s own guidelines, the book of evidence is required to be served on an accused person within 42 days of their first appearance before a District Court. Extensions to the time period must normally be sought from the courts.
“The DPP is buying time over and above what the State allows him to do by this subterfuge of delaying charges,” remarked Judge Anderson. The judge made his comments after three Garda witnesses told the court that the four accused faced a new charge under section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, relating to the illegal sale and supply of controlled drugs.
All four made no reply when cautioned, the court heard. Under legislation, anyone convicted of a drugs offence where the goods have a value of at least €500,000, face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The Misuse of Drugs Act provides for maximum sentences of life imprisonment.
A separate legal issue arose after the judge asked why a case, which began in the district courts in west Cork, had ended up in Dublin.
Judge Anderson requested a solicitor acting for the DPP to provide the legal basis for his application to have the accused remanded in custody for another hearing at Cloverhill District Court.
Although the four men were originally remanded in custody to Cork Prison after appearances before Macroom and Clonakilty District Courts in July, it is understood a decision was subsequently taken by the Prison Service to move them to Cloverhill Prison in Clondalkin for security reasons.
Judge Anderson also questioned why the latest charge could not have been brought at an earlier stage by the DPP.
The solicitor for the DPP explained that the charges in the case were of the “utmost public concern”, which were still the focus of a large, continuing, Garda investigation involving police in several other jurisdictions.
He claimed the decision on the latest charge could only be made by the DPP after a detailed forensic examination of the evidence.
Although at one stage, it appeared that the men could be temporarily released over the issue, they were finally remanded in continuing custody to appear before Cloverhill District Court again on September 4.