Man's appeal over €440m Cork cocaine haul rejected

Friday 19 April 2013 14.43
A boat carrying 1.5 tonnes of cocaine got into difficulties off the southwest coast in 2007
A boat carrying 1.5 tonnes of cocaine got into difficulties off the southwest coast in 2007

The Court of Criminal Appeal has dismissed Englishman Perry Wharrie's appeal against his conviction for his role in the biggest drugs haul in the history of the State.

Perry Wharrie, 53, received a 30-year prison sentence for his part in the bungled smuggling of €440m worth of cocaine at Dunlough Bay, Mizen Head, Co Cork on 2 July, 2007.

Judge Mr Justice John MacMenamin, sitting with Mr Justice Eamon deValera and Mr Justice Brian McGovern, today dismissed Wharrie's appeal against conviction.

Mr Justice MacMenamin said the court was satisfied to "reject each point on the appeal against conviction".

Wharrie, from Loughton in Essex, was unanimously found guilty in July 2008 by a Cork Circuit Criminal Court jury over the course of a trial that lasted 42 days.

He had denied the charges.

His two co-accused received lengthy prison sentences for the possession of drugs for sale or supply.

Wharrie appealed his conviction and sentence.

Lawyers acting on his behalf claimed his conviction was unsafe and should be set aside. The DPP had opposed the appeal.

His appeal against his sentence will be heard at a later date. Wharrie was not present in court for today's ruling.

Wharrie's lawyers raised a number of grounds in his appeal, including a submission that a Sunday World article by columnist Amanda Brunker published during the trial "interfered" with Wharrie's defence.

Other grounds included that inaccurate material was put before a peace commissioner asked to issue a search warrant in the case, that the trial judge had erred in his charge to the jury on what constitutes possession, and whether certain CCTV footage should have been replayed to the jury.

The State had opposed the appeal and argued that the conviction was safe and should not be disturbed.

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 southwest coast after one of its petrol engines was filled with diesel.

This caused the craft to flounder and sink in unseasonably rough July 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 one of Wharrie's co-accused floating in the sea encircled by 65 bales of cocaine.

There was evidence at the trial that customs officials who went to Dunlough Bay came across Wharrie and Daly making their way up from the cliffs. Both men were arrested two days later.