Two men jailed in Belfast for dealing drugs on the ‘dark web'

Laganside Court in Belfast
Staff Reporter

TWO men have been jailed for running a lucrative and "evil trade'' in drugs which involved the use of the internet's 'dark web'.

Richard Charles Patrick Sinclair (34), of Cranagh Road, Coleraine, Co Derry, was handed down a seven-year sentence, with half the time to be served in jail and remainder on licence on his release.

Belfast Crown Court heard on Friday how he used a bedroom in his grandmother's house to buy drugs over the internet from Holland using the online currency 'bitcoins' and then distributed them to ustomers inside DVD cases.

Sinclair pleaded guilty to possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply, importing a Class A drug, being concerned in the supply of Class A, Class B and Class C drugs, and converting criminal property.

Kyle James Hall (26), received a five and a half year sentence - with half the time to be served in jail and half on licence - after he used his Chamberlain Street home in east Belfast, where he lived with his partner and their child, to run his own similar online drugs distribution network.

Hall pleaded guilty to possessing Class A, Class B and Class C drugs with intent to supply, attempted supply of Class A drugs and possessing criminal property.

A third co-accused, Stephen Rodgers (29), of Glynn Park Close, Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, who was described as a 'patsy' in the drugs operation, received 240 hours community service.

He pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of Class A, Class B and Class C drug and converting criminal property.

Passing sentence Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said the case against the three accused was one of the "use of the 'dark web' for the purpose of a range of drugs in significant wholesale quantities which were distributed to a large online customer base''.

He added: "This was a sophisticated and commercial operation which generated several hundred thousand pounds in revenue from an evil trade in drugs.''

Belfast Crown Court had previously heard that in August 2016 police searched Sinclair's home he shared with his grandmother and during the raid officers found him in his bedroom "in the process of destroying evidence on his computer''.

Inside the property detectives found packages - containing both drugs including MDMA and cash - which contained the names and addresses of clients and which were stamped and ready to be posted out. Two of the packages were addressed to Hall and contained £1,500.

The searches also netted a tin box found under the computer desk containing around 70 grammes of MDMA powder and 310 LSD tablets.

Officers also discovered a cash box containing around £6,000.

The court was told that while police were searching Sinclair's Coleraine address, a parcel had been brought to a courier business in Belfast and addressed to Sinclair. A total of 3,000 tablets were found inside the parcel.

"CCTV enquiries showed that the person who attend the courier business was Mr Hall,'' explained Mr Henry.

The same day, police also searched Hall's house at Chamberlain Street. where a significant amount of drugs were uncovered including herbal cannabis crystal MDMA.

Other items seized included documentation relating to a bank account in the name of co-accused Stephen Rodgers; £7,500 in cash; electronic scales and other drugs paraphernalia.

Police estimated that the total street value of the drugs found in Hall's property was over £100,000.

Police also searched Rodgers's home at Glenvarlock Street, in east Belfast, and found a "hydraulic press'' and in the house police found bank account details in his name which related to the same account as the documentation officers had found in Hall's car.

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