Cocaine smuggler awaits ruling on sentence

Perry Wharrie to learn today if he has been successful in having 30 years term reduced

An Englishman given the longest ever sentence for drugs offences in the history of the state following a bungled cocaine smuggling operation off the West Cork coast will today learn if he has been successful in appealing to severity of his sentence.

Perry Wharrie (56) was sentenced to 30 years in jail for his part in the record €440 million cocaine smuggling operation which came undone at Dunlough Bay on the Mizen Peninsula in West Cork on July 2nd 2007.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin handed down the 30 year sentence to Wharrie and a co-accused Martin Wanden (52) of No Fixed Abode following a 42 day trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in July 2008 after both men and third accused, Joe Daly denied possessing the cocaine for sale or supply.

Wharrie from Pyrles Lane, Loughton in Essex in the UK later appealed the conviction to the Court of Criminal Appeal in 2013 but the three judge court dismissed the appeal against conviction and he then lodged an appeal against severity of sentence.


This morning at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Dublin, Wharrie will learn if he has been successful in his appeal against the severity of the 30 years sentence imposed by Judge Ó Donnabháin following his conviction in 2008.

Wharrie and Joe Daly (48), from Carrisbrooke Avenue, Bexley, Kent, who was sentenced to 25 years in jail by Judge Ó Donnabháin, were among the members of a major London based crime gang due to collect the 1.5 tonnes of cocaine off West Cork.

Other members of the gang went out in a Rigid Inflatable Boat to rendezvous some 30 miles off the West Cork coast with a catamaran, the Lucky Day crewed by two Lithuanians and another Briton, Gerard Hagan (31), carrying the drugs from South America.

But the plan went awry after the transfer of the drugs when one of the gang put diesel in the RIB’s petrol engines which cut out and the RIB was left to the mercy of the waves and capsized in the choppy waters of Dunlough Bay near the Mizen Head.

The crew of Wanden , Stephen Browne and Hagan were thrown into the water as was the cargo of 62 bales of cocaine and while Browne and Hagan made it ashore, Wanden had to be fished from the sea by the RNLI Castletownbere Lifeboat while the RNLI Baltimore lifeboat picked up the drugs.

Wharrie and Daly, who were watching on shore, abandoned two Landrovers they were to use to bring the drugs back to the UK and fled on foot as members of the Irish Coastguard Cliff and Coastal Rescue team from Goleen arrived on scene but they were arrested two days later near Schull.

Wharrie, Wanden and Daly all denied the drug smuggling charges and their cases went to trial but Hagan pleaded guilty to possessing drugs for sale or supply and was subsequently given a ten year jail sentence.

At the time, Wharrie, originally from the East End of London, had been freed on licence by the British authorities in 2005, having served 17 years of a life sentence for the murder of a police man during an armed robbery at a bank in Hemel Hempstead near London in 1988.

Although Wharrie denied being the gunman who shot off-duty police officer, Frank Mason (27) dead, he and co-accused Charles McGhee and getaway driver, Irish born, James Hurley were all jailed for life for the murder.

The British authorities have sought Wharrie’s extradition and he is facing returned to the UK to serve the remainder of his UK sentence for the murder when he completes his drug sentence due for determination today

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times