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Mobster with links to Ireland who was on the run for five years arrested in Thailand

Richard Wakeling (55) disappeared the evening before he was due to go on trial for attempting to import £8m worth of drugs.

Richard Wakeling

Clodagh MeaneySunday World

A British mobster who has been on the run for five years has been arrested in Thailand.

Richard Wakeling (55) from Essex, fled the UK in January 2018 the evening before he was set to go on trial for trying to import £8m worth of amphetamine in 2016.

Wakeling was convicted in his absence and was handed down an 11 year sentence at Chelmsford Crown Court.

He was placed on the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) Most Wanted list with a series of appeals for information later issued.

On Friday, officers from the Royal Thai Police arrested him at a garage in Bangkok as he went to collect his car after repairs.

Wakeling, who had been living in the beachside town of Hua Hin, was caught in possession of a passport in another identity.

He remains in custody as extradition proceedings are underway.

Wakeling vanished after he left his home in Essex on the morning of January 5, 2018. He drove off before abandoning his car to get a bus from Heathrow to Glasgow. The next day he took a ferry to Belfast where he fled onwards.

“The NCA has worked relentlessly to trace Wakeling and ensure he returns to the UK to serve his prison sentence,” David Coyle, NCA regional manager for Thailand, said.

“I thank the prosecutors of the Attorney General’s office, the Royal Thai Police and the Commissioner of the Central Investigations Bureau for their extensive work helping us identify and arrest Wakeling.”

“With our partners at home and abroad we are committed to doing everything possible to find those who have fled justice in the UK.

“This is another example of an offender being caught because of the NCA’s global reach and strong relationships with international partners.”

Jacque Beer, NCA regional head of investigations, added: “Wakeling’s arrest was the culmination of the NCA conducting enquiries around the world to capture him.”

“Wakeling had links to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Canada, Spain and Thailand. We pursued these connections and worked with partners from all those countries to help build the intelligence picture around him.”

“We have been supported by the public who responded to the media and Crimewatch appeals to provide intelligence all of which has ultimately led to his capture.”

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