Two men receive jail sentences for ‘commercial’ drug supply

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

Two men who were ‘in a commercial operation involving the supply of significant amounts of drugs’ have been jailed.

Billy Rushe and Robert Clarkson received sentences of two years and four months and two years respectively.

A third defendant, 42-year-old Janet Rushe, was ordered to spend 18 months on Probation.

Billy (21) and Janet Rushe (42), both from Glenhull Walk in Omagh and Robert James Clarkson (21), from The Willows in Sion Mills, pleaded guilty to a total of 22 drugs offences.

Derry Crown Court heard that the discovery of a plastic bag of suspected drugs outside a hotel bedroom in the Waterside area of the city last year lead to the defendants arrests.

The plastic bag was found by a member of the cleaning staff in the Premier Inn on Crescent Link on February 19, 2017.

Police viewed CCTV footage and it identified one of the defendants, Billy Rushe, who had spent the weekend in the hotel.

He was found in a dazed state in the Richmond Shopping Centre several hours later with a holdall which contained drugs, namely six Ecstasy tablets, 17.63 grams of Amphetamine tablets contained in sealed bags, 1,021 Diazepam tablets and 170 grams of Cannabis.

The Rushe family home was searched and police seized 964 grams of Herbal Cannabis, 90 grams of Cannabis Resin and 40 Diazepam tablets.

As a result of the investigation, the defendant Clarkson was interviewed and he admitted possessing two ounces of Cocaine which he had been ordered to sell to pay off a debt to a drugs gang. He claimed he refused to do this and dumped it instead.

Mobile phones belonging to Billy Rushe and Clarkson were also seized and they revealed substantial drugs related text messages between them.

Janet Rushe told the police that the drugs found in her home were for her personal use and she used them as pain relief for her crippling Arthritis as a result of which she is wheelchair bound.

However, it was the prosecution view she made this admission in an attempt to protect her son.

Passing sentence, Judge Philip Babington said Rushe and Clarkson were ‘involved in a criminal enterprise selling drugs to heavy users and saw their venture as a way of feeding their own addiction.

“It was a commercial operation involving the supply of significant amounts of drugs.”

The judge imposed determinate custodial sentences on the two men. Half of these sentences will be spent in custody and half in the community on licence.

Janet Rushe will spend 18 months on Probation and must attend drug counselling or treatment.