Director of Public Prosecutions -v- Wharrie, [2016] IECCA 1 (2016)

Docket Number:218/08
Party Name:Director of Public Prosecutions, Wharrie


MacMenamin J.

Moriarty J.

Hunt J.




Judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal delivered by Hunt J. on the 15


day of February, 2016


  1. The factual background to this matter may be found in the earlier judgment of this Court delivered on 19th April, 2013. Arising from the factual circumstances set out therein, the appellant was convicted of offences contrary to the provisions of s. 3, s. 15 and s. 15A of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, as amended. This Court dismissed the appellant’s application for leave to appeal against these convictions on the grounds referred to in that judgment.

  2. Thereafter, this Court reconvened to consider the appellant’s appeal against the sentence of 30 years imprisonment imposed upon him by the learned trial judge in respect of the offence contrary to s. 15A of the 1977 Act. As pointed out in this Court’s earlier judgment, the consignment of cocaine constituting the subject matter of these offences constituted the largest drug seizure in the history of the State, being variously stated to have values ranging from €100m to €440m. The consignment was of a very high purity and was packed in bales. The appellant pleaded not guilty, and on arraignment was convicted of these offences after a Circuit Court trial in Cork, lasting 41 days.

  3. Having heard the submissions of the parties on the appeal against this sentence, this Court concluded that the learned trial judge had erred in principle in imposing this sentence, and adjourned the matter in order to hear further evidence and submissions, for the purpose of enabling this Court to impose sentence upon the appellant.

    Error in Principle

  4. The appellant was indicted in respect of these matters together with three other accused persons. One of these individuals pleaded guilty to the charges at an earlier date. He received a sentence of 10 years. The other two were tried with the appellant. They were also convicted by the jury, and received sentences of 30 years and 25 years respectively.

  5. Two features are of particular relevance to the position of the appellant in this appeal. Firstly, unlike his co-accused, he did not contest the matter by giving evidence, in circumstances where the jury apparently had no difficulty in convicting all of the accused men. Secondly, it must be noted that the appellant had a lengthy and serious criminal record in the United Kingdom at the time of his involvement in these matters.

  6. Specifically, this criminal record included convictions for murder, robbery, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, and possession of a...

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