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12/03/2007

Bangor man jailed after extradition on drugs charges

A Bangor man was jailed for four and a half years at Belfast Crown Court today following his extradition from Spain on HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and PSNI warrants.

Michael Thomas Francis Cahillane, 41 had been living abroad ever since he absconded in 1990, when facing PSNI fraud charges. He was extradited from Spain in September 2006 to stand trial on two counts of being knowingly concerned in the importation of cannabis resin. These charges dated back to 1997.

Two seizures of cannabis resin totalling nearly 59 kilograms were made in the Bangor area in March and October 1997 as a result of joint operations between HMRC and police. Fingerprints found on the drug packages and wrappings were later identified as Cahillane’s.

HMRC Head of Investigation Northern Ireland, Anne-Marie Gordon said: “We are pleased that the court has recognised the seriousness of these charges and the message it sends out to criminals that we will take all necessary measures to bring them before the courts.

"HM Revenue & Customs continue to play a key role in the fight to stop drugs entering the UK and to reduce the associated harm to our communities. We aim to protect society from this activity wherever we detect it, at the borders or inland.

“In line with the UK Government’s drugs strategy, we work with our partners at home and abroad to reduce the availability of Class A drugs, while continuing to detect and prosecute smugglers of other illegal drugs such as cannabis.

“Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to drugs smuggling should call Customs Confidential on 0800 59 5000."

Three other men arrested at the time subsequently served sentences of three, five, and four and a half years respectively, for their part in the smuggling attempt.

His Honour Judge Harte said: “You were an important cog in the enterprise and the fingerprint evidence showed you played an active part.”

(JM/SP)

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