British jury out in €440m cocaine case conspiracy trial

A British jury trying a mechanic accused of taking part in the biggest cocaine case ever seen in Ireland has retired to continue its deliberations today.

A British jury trying a mechanic accused of taking part in the biggest cocaine case ever seen in Ireland has retired to continue its deliberations today.

John Edney is accused of buying three Land Rovers used by the gang as they tried to smuggle more than 1,500kg (3,300lb) of cocaine into Ireland.

But the plot was foiled after a boat carrying the consignment was shipwrecked off the Irish coast on July 2, 2007.

Edney (aged 57) from Sutton-at-Hone, Kent, denies conspiracy to supply the Class A drug and the jury in the two-week trial at London’s Blackfriars Court retired to begin its deliberations yesterday.

The men behind the plot tried to land 62 bales of cocaine, which weighed 1,554 kg, on a remote point of Ireland using a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB).

Prosecutors, who described the plan as “high stakes”, said the drugs were transferred to the RHIB from a catamaran which had crossed the Atlantic from the Caribbean.

But the boat ran out of fuel in rough seas and began to sink, leaving Gerard Hagan and Joe Daly to swim ashore near Dunlough Bay in Co Cork.

Martin Wanden had to be rescued by helicopter and was taken to hospital, where he gave a false name.

Wanden, Daly and a third man, Perry Wharrie, were convicted after a trial in Cork, while Hagan pleaded guilty.

Retired Metropolitan Police detective Michael Daly, 49, who organised the logistics, and Alan Wells (aged 56) have also admitted their parts in the conspiracy.

Edney told the jury of six men and six women he thought the 4x4s were going to be used at a fishing complex in France and said he had no idea there was any link with a drugs plot.

But Mark Gadsden, prosecuting, alleged it was “unthinkable” that the task of providing the vehicles would have been given to someone who was not part of the conspiracy.

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