Drugs from China delivered to college

Published Thursday, 09 January 2014
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A 33-year old Belfast man, who used his position as a porter at Belfast Metropolitan College to get packages of drugs delivered from China to his workplace, has narrowly escaped being sent to jail.

Drugs from China delivered to college
Mr Sands is now drug free and works as a chef in Belfast. (© Getty)

A Crown Court judge told Gerard Sands, a father of one from Rosgoill Drive, that she accepted "your drugs problem heightened your vulnerability and left you open to exploitation."

The drugs that were posted from Shanghai to the college bore the street name 4-MEC.

A one-time legal high, 4-MEC is similar to amphetamines and mephedrone, and was made illegal in April 2010.

Prosecuting lawyer Gareth Purvis told Belfast Crown Court that on 14 October, 2010, a package arrived at Belfast Metropolitan College from China bearing a name which was not recognised by anyone at the college.

As a similar package had arrived at the college the previous month, a member of staff opened the package, which contained two bags of white powder.

After the second package was opened, staff informed police.

On 5 November, 2010 a third package from China arrived at the Met and the PSNI was informed.

Mr Purvis said that on 4 January, 2011 a member of staff at the reception area of the college signed for a package from China.

Sands - who at that time worked as a porter at the college - told her "they've spelt my name wrong" before taking the package from her.

Another package addressed to Sands arrived on 21 January, 2011.

Sands' home was searched by police a week later on 28 January, 2011 and two bags - containing a small amount of cocaine in one and a small amount of 4-MEC in the other - were located in his bedroom.

Sands has since pleaded guilty to possession of both a Class A and a Class B drug on that date.

When he was arrested, Sands initially told officers he had ordered Ugg slippers from China.

He subsequently pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of the prohibition on the importation of goods, namely 4-MEC, on dates between 30 September, 2010 and 22 January, 2011.

The amount of drugs seized had a potential street value of around £100,000.

Mr Purvis told the court it was accepted by the Crown that in his position as a porter, Sands had been "exploited by persons unknown."

He was sacked from his porter's position and is now employed as a chef in Belfast.

Defence barrister Sean Devine said the incident had been a "very sobering experience" for his client, who is now drugs-free.

Saying Sands had "taken his life by the scruff", the barrister said: "This episode ...had given him the motivation to break free from that lifestyle and cycle of self-destruction he was on."

Judge Donna McColgan told Sands his drug habit had brought him before the court, saying "it is through your abuse of drugs that you became familiar with persons much higher up the chain in terms of dealing in drugs."

Saying she accepted he had been exploited by others and was given drugs as opposed to money as payment for his role, Judge McColgan told Sands he had abused his position as a porter in the college to faciliate his criminality.

Sands was handed an 18-month prison sentence, which was suspended for three years.

© UTV News
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