Network smashed Ex cop jailed for €2.3m cocaine and cannabis haul was smuggling drugs into Ireland
David Brown claimed he had no knowledge of the drugs in his truck
April 21 2021 05:02 PM
A former police inspector has been convicted for his role in a £2m drug smuggling operation after he was arrested trying to board a ferry with a truck full of drugs en route to Northern Ireland in 2018.
David Brown (51), of Carfin, Lanarkshire, had been trying to board a ferry in Cairnryan, Scotland, in December of that year, when he was stopped by the police.
Authorities then searched the truck, finding cocaine, herbal cannabis and cannabis resin.
During his trial it was heard how Brown had been recruited by the boss of a Scottish haulage firm, Lawrence Phee, who was the ringleader of the drug smuggling operation, which saw the gang import their drugs from Spain hidden inside heavy machinery.
During the trial, Brown argued that he had been duped into smuggling the drugs.
He claimed that he had been offered work at short notice driving one of Phee’s hired vans to Ireland and that the van had been loaded by a relative of Phee at a loading yard in Shotts, North Lanarkshire.
It was also heard how Brown, who had been commended previously for his work in the British Transport Police, had previously been jailed for fraud while working in the police force.
However, he and his associate, Patrick Hattie (52), from Airdrie, Lanarkshire, were convicted yesterday of being concerned in the supply of drugs between November 1 and December 1, 2018.
Both herbal cannabis and cannabis resin were discovered
While Phee made a guilty plea in 2020, and was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years, Brown and Hattie were remanded in custody yesterday and will be sentenced next month at the High Court in Livingston.
It was heard in court how haulier Phee ran his drugs empire from the North Lanarkshire area.
From there he arranged for the drugs to be delivered from Spain to various regions of the United Kingdom, with consignments being sent to Northern Ireland and some into the Republic of Ireland.
At a court hearing last year, a prosecutor, Alan Cameron, explained how Phee directed his operation.
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He explained: “The drugs were transported from the Alicante region of Spain to the UK with industrial machinery.
“These were most commonly generators and compressors.
“The drugs were hidden and then transported in lorry trailers run by a variety of individuals and companies.
“The drivers of the vehicles and the operators of the transport companies were, at times, unaware of the presence of drugs.”
It was heard that when Brown was stopped by the police at Cairnryan Port in Dumfries and Galloway, he claimed to be a delivery driver who was working for Phee’s front company, Kelly Compressors, in Shotts in Lanarkshire.
However, one of the officers examining the cargo, who had knowledge of the item on board, became suspicious about an alteration made to it.
Four kilos of cocaine, 23kg of herbal cannabis and 5,072 bars of cannabis resin were uncovered, with the total haul being valued at around £1m – but much more if sold in smaller batches.
In court, Brown claimed that he thought he was transporting an oil tank and said that he had no concerns about the cargo.
He claimed that he had been “gutted” at being duped by Phee and that he would be viewed as being responsible because of his police history.
In court, when referring to another incident in order to further explain Phee’s background, it was heard how he used the alias Pat Kelly, and had previously met with a transport company in Alicante, in 2018, where a piece of machinery wrapped in cling film was loaded onto a lorry.
When the unwitting drivers of the truck were stopped by police in France, a total of 126kg of herbal cannabis were found inside a generator.
This week both Brown and Hattie were remanded in custody, with Judge Lord Summers telling both men: “You have both been found guilty by the jury. I will continue this for background reports.”