A Cloughmills man was convicted on Wednesday at Antrim Crown Court in connection with his involvement in a large scale illegal veterinary medicines supply network, in which more than £681,000 of illegal and unauthorised veterinary products were supplied onto the black market.
Christopher Noel Logan, 53, of Drumbay Road, Cloughmills, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment suspended for five years on each of six charges (to run concurrently) which were before the court.
The charges concerned the long term illegal supply of prescription-only veterinary medicines from his Cloughmills hardware shop. Logan was also convicted on charges of possessing criminal property under Proceeds of Crime legislation relating to his possession of the proceeds of the sales of the illegal medicines. The illegal activities spanned a five year period between 2009 and late 2013. The prosecution leading to today’s conviction was brought by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG).
Supported by the PSNI, Departmental officers conducted several searches at commercial and residential premises in the Cloughmills area in late 2013, which uncovered evidence of the illegal supplies together with significant amounts of cash.
The drugs supplied in the illegal venture were worth more than £681,000 and included substantial quantities of unauthorised and illegal prescription only veterinary medicines including a range of antibiotics.
Senior Medicines Enforcement Officer Peter Moore, who led the investigation, said: “This was a significant criminal enterprise which involved the illegal supply of veterinary medicines on a commercial scale. The likelihood is that many of these illegal veterinary medicines were destined for use in food producing animals, which poses a real risk to the general public.
“This has been another opportunity for the Department to ensure that an illegal and dangerous medicines supply source has been closed and today’s conviction sends out a clear message of our determination to take action against all such illegal activity”.
Prof Mike Mawhinney, Head of the Medicines Regulatory Group, DHSSPS, said: “Those involved in animal health and who use veterinary medicines are reminded that they should only source medicines from legal and reputable suppliers. There are dangers posed by the indiscriminate and unauthorised use of antibiotics as highlighted in the current World Antibiotic Awareness Week, being run by the World Health Organisation.
“To be imported, possessed and sold for use in the UK, all veterinary medicines must be authorised to ensure they are safe and effective and many must be prescribed by a veterinary surgeon. Even where medicines are authorised they must be distributed and sold through regulated outlets such as pharmacies, where trained staff are available to provide the necessary advice on safe use.
“Our advice is clear – don’t be tempted to bypass the regulated supply system. I thank the public for their continuing support and would appeal to them to continue to report any suspicious activity to us.”
Following today’s sentence the PSNI Economic Crime Unit will conduct confiscation proceedings under Proceeds of Crime legislation.