At a Proceeds of Crime confiscation hearing before Judge Marrinan at Antrim Crown Court yesterday, Christopher Noel Logan, 54, of Drumbay Road, Cloughmills, Ballymena was ordered to repay £515,000 within three months or to serve two years imprisonment in default of payment.
The confiscation order resulted from Logan’s conviction in 2015, when he 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 large scale 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 Confiscation Order was brought by the Department of Health’s (DoH) Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG).
In late 2013, supported by the Police Service (PSNI), Department of Health enforcement officers conducted searches at commercial and residential premises in the Cloughmills area of County Antrim, which uncovered evidence of the illegal supply network 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 Department of Health investigation, said: “This was a significant criminal enterprise which involved the illegal supply of veterinary medicines onto the black market on a near industrial 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 investigation clearly demonstrates our determination to work with key partner agencies, in this case the PSNI, to ensure that an illegal and dangerous medicines supply source has been closed down and today’s substantial Confiscation Order sends out a very clear message that illegal activity such as this will not be tolerated by the courts.”
Following yesterday’s Confiscation Order, PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wilson, said: “A financial investigator from our Economic Crime Unit was appointed to progress confiscation proceedings in this case after a conviction was secured last year. This sterling work has now resulted in a confiscation of over half a million pounds - proof that crime really does not pay. We remain committed to tackling crime with partner agencies and removing any benefits derived from criminality. This substantial confiscation will go into public coffers and a percentage of it will come back to police in the north to be used in the ongoing fight against crime.”
Prof Mike Mawhinney, Head of the Medicines Regulatory Group, DoH, added: “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 clear dangers posed by the indiscriminate and unauthorised use of antibiotics.
“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. We again thank the public for their continuing support and would appeal to them to continue to report any suspicious activity to us.”
Notes to editors:
1. In the UK, the body responsible for granting Marketing Authorisations for veterinary medicines is the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). Products with a bona fide Marketing Authorisation are given unique numbers preceded by the letter “VM”. Therefore if a product does not have a VM number on its label it has not been authorised. A VM issued in respect of a legitimate product provides assurance to the user on the safety, quality and efficacy of the product.
2. It is the responsibility of the Department of Health (DoH) to enforce a number of the provisions within the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013 in the north of Ireland.
3. To report any suspicious activity in relation to the supply of any unauthorised or counterfeit medicines, please contact Peter Moore, Senior Medicines Enforcement Officer, DoH Medicines Regulatory Group, on: 028 9052 2094 or by email at email@example.com
4. Christopher Noel Logan was sentenced on 18 November, 2015 in relation to the following charges:
Count 1 : Between the 30th day of June 2009 and the 30th day of September 2009, in the County Court Division of Antrim, you supplied unauthorised veterinary medicinal products to the value of £35,680.72 or thereabouts, including prescription only antibiotics Marbocyl, Micotil, Pen Strep other than in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 27, of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2008.
Count 2: Between the 1st day of October 2009 and the 30th day of September 2011, in the County Court Division of Antrim, you supplied unauthorised veterinary medicinal products to the value of £345,500.67, or thereabouts including prescription only antibiotics Excenel, Hexasol, Tetra Delta other than in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 27, of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2009.
Count 3: Between the 1st day of October 2011 and the 30th day of September 2013, in the County Court Division of Antrim, you supplied unauthorised veterinary medicinal products to the value of £295,769.15, or thereabouts including prescription only antibiotics Tylovet, Ultrapen LA, Zactran other than in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 27, of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2011.
Count 4: Between the 1st day of October 2013 and the 9th day of October 2013, in the County Court Division of Antrim, you supplied unauthorised veterinary medicinal products to the value of £4,328.40 or thereabouts including prescription only antibiotics Nuflor, Synulox, Boviseal other than in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 27, of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013.
Count 5: On the 9th day of October 2013 in the County Court Division of Antrim, had possession of criminal property in different currencies to the value of £12678.41, representing the proceeds of sale of unauthorised veterinary medicinal products.
Count 6: Between the 29th day of June 2009 and the 10th day of October 2013, in the County Court Division of Antrim, or elsewhere within the jurisdiction of the court, possessed criminal property, namely, the proceeds of sale of unauthorised veterinary medicinal products.
5. Media enquiries to the DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0074. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Office via pager number on 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt
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