THE JURY in the trial of three Englishmen charged in connection with the discovery of €440 million worth of cocaine off the west Cork coast last year is expected to go out today to consider a verdict after the judge concludes his address to them.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin has told the jury of nine men and two women at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that he will take a short period of time this morning to conclude his address to them in the trial of Martin Wanden, Perry Wharrie and Joe Daly.
Mr Wanden (45), of no fixed abode, Mr Wharrie (48), of Loughton, Essex, and Mr Daly (41), of Bexley, Kent, each deny three charges including possessing cocaine for sale or supply at Dunlough Bay on July 2nd, 2007.
The huge haul of cocaine weighing more than 1,500kg was recovered from Dunlough Bay at the end of the Mizen Peninsula by gardaí and customs officers assisted by local coastguard units, an Irish Coastguard helicopter and both the Castletownbere and Baltimore Lifeboats.
The trial enters its 10th week and 41st day today, with the jury having heard evidence from more than 200 witnesses, including dozens from west Cork as well as several international witnesses from the United Kingdom, the United States, South Africa, Spain and Barbados.
On Friday, Judge Ó Donna-bháin issued his sternest warning yet to the jury about talking to anyone about the case, and he urged them to ignore anything they might see or hear in the media in relation to the trial of the three accused.
“It would be an absolute tragedy if anything happened to anyone on the jury because these men [ the three accused] would have to go through it all again.
“Do not talk to any outside party about the case. We are entirely in your hands,” the judge said.
“You are not ready to deliberate yet. You will have Monday and Tuesday and whatever length of time you need,” said Judge Ó Donnabháin, who swore a jury in to hear the case on May 20th and began hearing evidence the following week.
Security has been extremely tight during the lengthy trial, with a large force of uniformed and plainclothes officers maintaining a presence each day around the courthouse on Washington Street, in the heart of Cork city.
The prosecution, which closed its case after six weeks of evidence on July 7th, has been represented by Tom Creed SC and Siobhan Langford BL, instructed by State solicitor for West Cork, Malachy Boohig.
Mr Wanden is represented by Padraig Dwyer SC, instructed by Madden & Finucane Solicitors, Belfast.
Mr Wharrie is represented by Tim O’Leary SC and Mr Daly is represented by Blaise O’Carroll SC, both of whom are instructed by solicitor Michael McVerry, of Dundalk.