Man jailed over €440m cocaine haul loses appeal

Judge dismisses Perry Wharrie’s application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court

Perry Wharrie outside Cork Circuit Court after he recieved a 30-year prison sentence in 2008. Photograph: Provision

Perry Wharrie outside Cork Circuit Court after he recieved a 30-year prison sentence in 2008. Photograph: Provision

 

A man jailed over the seizure of a record €440 million drugs consignment off the Cork coast in 2007 has lost his bid to bring another appeal over his conviction and sentence.

Perry Wharrie (56), of Loughton, Essex in England, was jailed for 30 years, later reduced on appeal to 17 and a half years, over the cocaine haul at Dunlough Bay on the Mizen peninsula.

He had asked the Court of Appeal to certify an appeal to the Supreme Court on a point of law.

It was argued the offences of possession of the drugs for sale or supply had not been committed because the evidence in the case showed the cocaine was destined for another jurisdiction.

In its judgment on Tuesday, the appeal court refused to certify an appeal saying the point had not been raised at his trial and had not been entertained in his first appeal.

Wharrie had also not shown the point of law was of exceptional public interest or it was desirable in the public interest such an appeal be taken, it held.

At his trial, Wharrie pleaded not guilty to possession of the drugs for sale or supply but was unanimously found guilty by a Cork Circuit Criminal Court jury and sentenced in 2008.

He was part of a gang who used a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) which met a catamaran from which the drugs were transferred.

The operation went awry after the transfer because diesel had been put in the RIB’s petrol engine which cut out – causing the craft to flounder and sink in unseasonably rough July seas.

‘Insurmountable obstacles’

Lifeboat crews who came to the aid of the sinking RIB found one of Wharrie’s accomplices floating in the sea encircled by 65 bales of cocaine, subsequently found to be 75 per cent pure.

Wharrie and another man made it ashore but both were arrested two days later.

Dismissing his application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, Mr Justice John MacMenamin, on behalf of the three-judge appeal court, said Wharrie’s counsel argued the issue about the consignment of drugs being destined for outside this jurisdiction only came to light after his conviction.

It was argued this constituted non-disclosure of material evidence at trial.

Mr Justice MacMenamin said the point was not made either at the original trial or at the sentence hearing.

The court could not accept this proposition and nor could it be convincingly suggested the testimony relating to the destination of the drugs came as a bolt from the blue, he said.

Wharrie had not testified in his case, and was entitled not to, but the main plank of his case was there was not sufficient evidence to show he was part of a large international joint enterprise, the judge said.

The Court of Appeal, when dealing with Wharrie’s first appeal, had also held it would not entertain the destination of the drugs point, he noted.

This was among the “insurmountable obstacles” Wharrie faced in this appeal, along with the fact he failed to satisfy the exceptional importance and public interest requirements, the court found.