Onchan man who was ‘warehousing’ drug gets five years
Two men have been jailed for their part in a drug trafficking operation which saw police recover more than a quarter of a million pounds of cannabis.
Bilal Moghal, of Jennison Close in Manchester, and Christopher Joseph Parker, of Fairfield Avenue in Onchan, were sentenced at Douglas Courthouse today (11 November).
Police observed the duo meeting near Corkills Garage in Onchan at 9.25am on 3 September with the two men seen passing items between their vans.
When officers stopped Parker, near his home shortly after, they recovered 13 kilos of cannabis from his vehicle; he told them: “Someone asked me to pick something up.”
The Class B substance was said to have a Manx street value of up to £267,862.
A subsequent search of Parker’s address saw police recover more than a kilogram of cannabis – from the kitchen and garden – this was said to be worth more than £21,000.
Officers also found £33,165 concealed in the 43-year-old’s garden.
Moghal, who was driving a UK registered hire van, was stopped by police on Douglas Promenade shortly after the meet on 3 September.
The 64-year-old told officers he was on the Island to deliver takeaway items to an Indian restaurant but couldn’t provide details of which one.
He had a number of ‘low value’ polystyrene containers in his vehicle which he claimed the restaurant had refused – adding that he was looking for other places to sell them.
Travel documents showed he’d spent £950 on his Steam Packet sailing to the Island the day before.
Parker later admitted two offences of possession of cannabis with intent to supply and one of possession of criminal property.
The court heard the landscape gardener had claimed he was offered £500 to pick up the drugs and look after them – an amount which would cover a vet bill he had accrued.
Parker confirmed he’d never met Moghal before and was ‘warehousing’ the drugs for others, who he didn’t name, but that he was unaware of the quantities involved.
His advocate described his client’s offending as a ‘catastrophic error of judgement’ due to his vulnerable position adding he’d been ‘amenable to suggestion’ from those higher up the chain.
“He was struggling, in the weeks leading up to the commission of these offences, financially,” he told the court: “It wasn’t as if he was making any profit from this – this was going towards his vet bill.”
Parker had written a letter to the court describing himself as a ‘total idiot’ adding: “I feel ashamed and embarrassed of my actions.”
Responding to this his advocate said: “Not an idiot by any means – but what he did was idiotic.”
“Robbing Peter to pay Paul”
Moghal admitted producing cannabis to the Isle of Man and possessing the drug with intent to supply.
In his basis of plea Moghal said he wasn’t aware of the quantity of drugs involved but confirmed he was due to receive £5,000 for his part in the operation adding: “I was only the courier”.
His advocate reiterated the position that her client was ‘the courier and nothing else’ saying: “He was clearly a low-level player in the whole operation.”
She said the HGV and lorry driver had acquired significant debts after being unable to leave Pakistan during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic concluding: “He was essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
The court heard Moghal has previous convictions for drug trafficking offences with his advocate adding when ‘difficulties strike’ Moghal turned to couriering drugs to make money.
Jailing Parker for five years Deemster Graeme Cook told him: “You may not have been supplying it but you were warehousing it for someone who has a massive supply chain.”
Moghal was jailed for four years and eight months and will be excluded from the Isle of Man on his release from prison.