Pair are jailed for part in cocaine and cannabis dealing operation
TWO north Belfast men have been handed prison sentences for their part in a “well organised’’ cocaine and cannabis drug dealing operation.
Nicholas Mackle Snr (60), of Fortwilliam Park, was jailed for two-and-a-half years after he pleaded guilty to possession of the drugs with intent to supply and possessing a firearm and ammunition in suspicious circumstances.
Philip Hugh Mitchell (35), of Beechwood Avenue, Newtownabbey, pleaded guilty to a single charge of possessing cocaine with intent to supply and was jailed for 16 months.
He was ordered to serve a further 16 months on licence on his release.
Nicholas Mackle Jnr (40), of Coolymoyne Park, was handed a 12-month sentence suspended for two years after he pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis.
Passing sentence yesterday at Belfast Crown Court, Judge Geoffrey Miller QC told Mackle Snr that he would serve a further three years on supervised licence on his release from jail to allow to him to take part in “drug and alcohol programmes’’ to deal with his addictions.
The judge said that an aggravating factor in the father-ofsix’s case was the possession of a “converted sub-machine gun’’.
“What was the intended purpose of this firearm is a question this court needs to address,” he said. “There is, however, no evidence to suggest this weapon had been used directly against or to threaten anyone.’’
He said the most likely reason Mackle Snr had the gun was for a defensive purpose.
Judge Miller said, although the gun was in a “poor condition”, it remained “dangerous’’ and could “cause serious harm’’.
The judge said Mitchell had told probation that he had an addiction to drink and drugs and got involved in the operation to pay off a “drug debt’’.
Prosecution lawyer Natalie Pinkertonhadtoldthecourtthat on April 1, 2015, police searched addresses in north Belfast and recovered a “significant’’ quantity of Class A cocaine and Class B cannabis and amphetamine or ‘speed’ drugs along with a number of firearms and ammunition.
Mitchell and Mackle Snr were found at an address in Midlands Close, where police recovered a quantity of cocaine with a “high purity level of up to 80%” and which had a potential street value of over £110,000. A quantity of cutting agent benzocaine was also seized.
Coded text message traffic was found on mobile phones owned by Mackle Snr and Mitchell, which gave the impression that theywerea“coupleinacloserelationship’’.
At a nearby house in Midland Crescent, a search found two cocaine presses. Officers also discovered 18 plants in an upstairs cannabis factory with a potential street value of over £15,000.
Ms Pinkerton said it was the prosecution case that Mackle Snr was the “principal” in the drug supply operation, while Mitchell played a lesser role to him.
However, Judge Miller said that it was the court’s view that Mackle Snr was “not the brains behind the operation” and there was “no evidence of trappings of wealth”.
The judge ordered the destruction of all the drugs and drug related paraphernalia, along with the firearm and ammunition.
Drug dealer Nicholas Mackle Snr was jailed at Belfast Crown Court