South Scotland

Bernard Ryan jailed over Cairnryan cannabis haul

Bernard Ryan
Image caption Ryan was convicted of the drugs offence after a two-day trial at the High Court in Glasgow

A Manchester man caught with £1m of cannabis in his pick-up truck at a south of Scotland ferry port has been jailed for five years.

Bernard Ryan, 61, was snared by a police sniffer dog at Cairnryan near Stranraer in June last year.

He was convicted of the offence following a two-day trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

The load of herbal cannabis had been hidden under the trailer of Ryan's Ford Transit recovery vehicle.

The court heard it was the same technique of storing drugs which had landed him a prison sentence in Ireland in 2005.

Officers from the Border Policing Command swooped at Lochryan Port, Cairnryan, on 19 June last year.

Ryan was waiting to board a ferry to Northern Ireland at the time.

'Very unusual'

Police dog Buster sniffed something suspicious coming from Ryan's vehicle during a routine check.

It was also discovered the underside of the Ford pick-up had been modified which one officer described as "very unusual".

A large amount of cannabis was then uncovered - believed to be one of the largest seizures ever made at the busy port.

Image caption The drugs seizure is believed to be one of the biggest ever made at the ferry port

Jurors were shown photos of a large number of heavily-wrapped packages that were stored in compartments under plywood and metal in a bid to avoid detection.

Ryan insisted during the trial that he had no knowledge of the drugs.

He claimed he had been loaned the vehicle from a friend called Paul - who had since died - to collect a car from Ireland and that he was also intending to meet a "secret" lover while there.

Prosecutor Peter Ferguson QC described his story as "complete tosh".

Mr Ferguson said the Ford had been used as a "converted smuggler's device".

The court also heard Ryan - who was working in a supermarket kitchen - had more than £8,000 paid into his bank account weeks before he was arrested.

He claimed this was a lump sum from an army pension.

It emerged after the verdict that the former soldier had a previous conviction for cannabis dealing eight years ago.

It was also revealed that Ryan had served time in military detention after being convicted of theft following a court martial in 1985.

On jailing him, judge Sean Murphy QC said: "You have been convicted of smuggling a very large amount of cannabis from the UK mainland to Ireland.

"You are getting a bit old for this sort of thing."

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