Coleraine man ‘ran drugs empire with £200k turnover from his bedroom’

Courts
Courts

A Co Londonderry man on benefits allegedly ran a small drugs empire with a £200,000 turnover from his bedroom as an experiment, the High Court has heard.

Richard Sinclair arranged deals on the dark web and oversaw a distribution system involving couriers unwittingly delivering MDMA and other substances without ever leaving his home, a judge was told.

With Sinclair said to have made full admissions, he was seeking bail to spend time with his elderly grandmother before facing what his lawyer described as inevitable imprisonment.

His application was refused, however, due to the risk of re-offending.

The 33-year-old was arrested after police seized ecstasy pills, herbal cannabis and diazepam tablets worth an estimated £100,000 during separate raids at his home on Cranagh Road, Coleraine and a co-accused’s address in east Belfast last August.

Sinclair faces charges of conspiracy to supply and possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply, and transferring criminal property.

Prosecution counsel said police who raided his home discovered him in a bedroom destroying evidence on an encrypted memory stick.

Hundreds of drugs transactions were said to be displayed on a nearby computer when officers entered.

Customer names, email and delivery addresses, types of drugs, quantities, purchases and sales believed to be in excess of £204,000 were retrieved, the court heard.

Two sealed packages addressed to his co-accused contained DVD boxes with £1,500 in cash in each. Another three parcels had 60g of suspected MDMA powder.

As those searches were being carried out police were alerted to a parcel addressed to Sinclair being left at a courier depot in Belfast.

It contained two jigsaw puzzles with a total of 3,000 MDMA and other psychedelic pills with a potential street value of £40,000, according to the prosecution barrister.

She said the racket involved online buying and selling drugs via the dark net, dispatching them to customers in the post, and using the electronic bitcoin currency.

The court heard claims that Sinclair planned to start selling up to 1,000 ecstasy tablets a week to a select list of around a dozen customers.

Examination of his bank account revealed more than £287,000 had been paid in over the previous three years, with £236,000 going out to a bookmaker’s betting account.