Derry man who was leader of drug gang sentenced to nine years in prison

The courthouse in Londonderry.

The courthouse in Londonderry.

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A Derry man who was the leader of an organised crime gang which was involved in the “large scale supply of drugs in Northern Ireland” has been jailed for nine years.

Declan Gallagher, (34), who now has an address in Greater Manchester, will serve half this sentence in custody and half on licence.

Eleven other defendants, with addresses in Derry, Belfast and Greater Manchester, also admitted charges in relation to six drug seizures between September 2013 and August 2014.

Cocaine and cannabis were seized with a value of £2.2million.

They included the brother and sister of Declan Gallagher, 45-year-old Peter and 46-year-old Louise.

The other defendants, who are aged between 25 and 56-years-old, are: Declan Palmer, Michael Rainey, Edward Cameron, Patrick Ward, Raymond Hamilton, Benjamin Harding, Ryan Ratcliffe, Phillip Colville and Scott Sotheron.

Derry Crown Court heard that Declan Gallagher was “heavily involved in directing and controlling the operations of the gang”.

It was also revealed “he was at the centre of this criminal offending and others were involved at his behest in one way or another. He was, in essence, the leader of this criminal enterprise.”

However, Judge Philip Babington said: “Each defendant played his part in this criminal gang’s operations which involved the supply of illegal drugs in Northern Ireland. In particular the telephone evidence shows that this was a criminal gang involved in serious criminality with each person playing their part. It may not be unreasonable to say that without everyone’s participation the gang would have been able to operate effectively.”

Declan Gallagher was jailed for nine years and Declan Palmer was jailed for seven years.

Rainey, Colville, Cameron, Hamilton, Harding, Ratcliffe and Sotheron were all jailed for three years.

Peter Gallagher had an 18 month sentence suspended for three years, Louise Gallagher a 12 month sentence suspended for three years and Patrick Ward received a 12 month sentence suspended for two years.

Speaking outside the court the senior investigating officer D.I Tom McClure welcomed the sentence imposed on Declan Gallagher.

He said “Gallagher thought he was controlling this criminality from a safe distance and not getting his hands dirty. We were able to build a compelling circumstantial case involving phone data to prove his leading role in all six consignments.”

The officer added that the PSNI is “delighted these drugs have been removed from communities and hopefully this will have assisted in keeping people safe.

“It also sends a message out to those involved in drugs at the highest level you are not out of reach and when you are brought before the courts significant sentences will be imposed.”