Northern Ireland

Reduced sentence for drug dealer supergrass Shaun McManus

A major drug dealer, turned supergrass, has had a nine-year jail term reduced to nine months licensed parole and seven months imprisonment.

Shaun Paul McManus, 29, has already served six months on remand and the judge said it would not be in the public interest to return him to jail for a couple of weeks and free him.

He said normally McManus' drug dealing would have meant a nine-year sentence.

However, being an 'assisting offender' entitled him to a reduced sentence.

McManus, arrested with others last October, following "an intelligence-led operation", has recently signed a contract under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) to become an 'assisting offender'.

However, the actual details of that agreement were not disclosed in court.

Earlier in the case, a prosecution lawyer told the court that for sometime police had McManus and others, and a number of properties, under surveillance in and around the Coleraine and Portstewart areas, which also led to arrests in Londonderry.

The lawyer said that following his arrest McManus admitted that between 14 September 2010 and October 2010 he had been heavily involved in drug dealing.

The court heard that during that period McManus had been involved in the movement of up to half a million pounds worth of drugs, much of which was recovered by the authorities.

He had told detectives of delivering and collecting drugs all over Northern Ireland, picking up shipments from lorry drivers coming off various ferries.

McManus told officers he had picked up "white bars" for cutting, which he took to be cocaine, while on other occasions he was given "green bars", which he thought was cannabis.

The prosecution lawyer said because McManus was not certain of the type of drugs he was handling on those occasions before his arrest, he was only charged with attempting to possess, control, or supply in those cases of drug dealing.

The judge said that McManus' previous lifestyle, while financially rewarding, was highly illegal, but he had now taken a completely different course.

He told the court that one could only imagine the serious toll that dramatic change has taken, not only on McManus' life, but on that of his family as well.

Prosecuting counsel said that while McManus was involved in both the dealing and distribution of drugs up until the time of his arrest, he had now shown "a willingness to give evidence, if required, against others".

Defence counsel said that it was recognised that the step McManus had taken has been "at a significant personal cost".

McManus, now in the care of the witness protection unit, pleaded guilty to over 20 charges involving the possession, control, supply and attempted supply of Class A, B and C drugs.