Man due to be extradited to the UK on drug importation charges

Man due to be extradited to the UK on drug importation charges

A 52-year-old man is due to be extradited to the United Kingdom on charges relating to an alleged conspiracy to import drugs with a street value of up to eight million pounds sterling.

Liam McGowan of no fixed abode, is facing charges in the UK of conspiring with others to fraudulently evade the probation on the importation of a controlled drug of class A cannabis bush and of class C ketamin over a three year period between February 1st, 2011 and February 7th, 2014.

Counsel for the Minister of Justice and Equality, Siobhán Ní Chúlacháin told the High Court last month (June 22nd) that Mr McGowan was arrested (here) in October of last year.

"A warrant was issued by the United Kingdom for the arrest of the respondent on October 8th, 2014," said Ms Ní Chúlacháin.

"Officers seized 117 of 50g bags of cannabis with an estimated value of between 585,000 and 1.17 million pounds sterling and Ketamin with an estimated value of between 4.5 and 6.75 million pounds sterling," she said.

The court heard (June 22nd) that another man who was based in Manchester, had allegedly arranged delivery with Mr McGowan.

"This was a well organised conspiracy," she continued.

"Mr McGowan was linked to a haulage company in southern Ireland," she said.

Counsel for the Minister of Justice and Equality said that the case is based on surveillance evidence carried out on two haulage companies controlled by Mr McGowan that imported temperature controlled goods to the UK.

The court heard that on February 6th, 2014 a delivery was seized and that a person involved implicated Mr McGowan in interview.

Counsel for the respondent, Mr Michael O' Higgins said last month (June 22nd) that he opposed the surrender of Mr McGowan, who is a father of two, due to his supposed degree of involvement.

"We take issue with the degree of involvement. He (Mr McGowan) says: 'I am a legitimate businessman who had no involvement in the offences against me. I am

wholly innocent of any involvement with this offence.'

Mr O'Higgins continued saying that after arranging the delivery, it does not say in the warrant that Mr McGowan was aware what was in the consignments.

"Liam McGowan requested the movement of two or three pallets. It's not suggested there is any admission that Mr McGowan was aware his company was being used as a front. That evidence is lacking in the case," he said.

"The question is whether it was established there were drugs in those vehicles.

Mr McGowans alleged involvement isn't set out at all. Nowhere is it suggested that Mr McGowan ever set foot out of Ireland," he added.

"The people who were stopped in Manchester are clearly guilty of possessing the drugs. The respondent for much of the period covered in the charges, was in Ireland," counsel said.

Miss Justice Aileen Donnelly said last month (June 22nd) that the offence, which concerned the importation of drugs of a significant value, was of significant gravity.

"This is an application for the surrender of Mr McGowan to the UK. It's an offence of significant gravity concerning the importation of controlled drugs into a country of significant value indeed. There is a clear and pressing need for his extradition in this case," she said.

"The warrant must be read as a whole. He (Mr McGowan) must be aware of the reasons for his arrest. In this regard, I say that when one looks at the warrant as a whole, (we) see its a conspiracy to fraudulently evade the prohibition on the importation of a controlled drug," she said.

She added that the warrant states that Mr McGowan is connected to the conspiracy by virtue of his association with others involved.

"In looking at the details of the warrant, it is clear that what is being alleged is that a dutch vehicle arrived at a location in Manchester that had in it cannabis  bush with a maximum value of 1.17million and ketamin with a maximum value of 6.75 million," she said.

"The evidence showed (those involved) had arranged (transport) by email with Liam McGowan - this was a pattern which had been repeated," she said.

"It is clear from the warrant there is sufficient detail setting out the circumstances on which the offence was committed. I am quite satisfied when I look at the warrant as a whole, there is a clear criminal sense and not accidental sense and there is no ground to prohibit his surrendor," she concluded.

Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly yesterday ordered that Mr McGowan be surrendered to the United Kingdom.