Drug smuggler to learn result of appeal of 30-year sentence

Perry Wharrie serving jail term for part in €440 million cocaine seizure off Cork coast

Perry Wharrie (53) was one of four men jailed in Ireland for their part in the bungled Dunlough Bay drug-smuggling operation off Mizen Head in West Cork in July 2007. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Perry Wharrie (53) was one of four men jailed in Ireland for their part in the bungled Dunlough Bay drug-smuggling operation off Mizen Head in West Cork in July 2007. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

 

An Englishman caught in a bungled drug smuggling operation off the West Cork coast will learn today if he is to have his record 30 year sentence reduced by the Court of Criminal Appeal.

Perry Wharrie (56) was given the sentence for his part in the record €440 million cocaine smuggling operation which came undone at Dunlough Bay in West Cork on July 2nd 2007.

Judge Sean O Donnabhain handed down the 30 year sentence to Wharrie and a co-accused Martin Wanden (52) following a 42 day trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in July 2008.

Wharrie, from Loughton in Essex, appealed the conviction to the Court of Criminal Appeal in 2013 but the three judge court dismissed the appeal.

He then lodged an appeal against severity of sentence and last July, the three judge appeal court ruled that Judge O Donnabhain may have erred in principle when imposing the 30 year term.

Mr Justice John MacMenamin, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty and Mr Justice Anthony Hunt ruled that in their “preliminary view” Judge O Donnabhain had erred in principle when sentencing Wharrie.

The court wished to look at the case again and adjourned the matter until October 16th when it would impose a sentence.

Wharrie and Joe Daly (48) from Bexley, Kent, who was jailed for 25 years, were among the members of a major London based gang due to collect the 1.5 tonnes of cocaine off West Cork.

Gang members used a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) to rendezvous some 50km off the Cork coast with a catamaran crewed by two Lithuanians and Briton Gerard Hagan (31).

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.

The crew of the RIB were thrown into the water as was the cargo, but only Browne and Hagan managed to make it ashore.

Wanden had to be fished from the sea by the a lifeboat, while another picked up the bales of cocaine.

Wharrie and Daly, who were watching on shore, abandoned two 4X4 vehicles they were to use to bring the drugs back to the UK and fled on foot.

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 later given a 10-year jail term.

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 in 1988.

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

The British authorities have sought Wharrie’s extradition and he is facing return to the UK to serve the remainder of his murder sentence when he completes his drug sentence.