A man caught illegally selling veterinary medicine has been told he will be jailed unless he hands over half a million pounds worth of the cash from his criminal enterprise.
The 54-year-old man, Christopher Noel Logan, was convicted of a range of charges in 2015 relating to the large scale supply of prescription-only veterinary medicines.
Logan, whose address was given as Drumbay Road, Cloughmills, Ballymena, sold the veterinary drugs from a hardware shop.
In the course of five years, ranging from 2009 to late 2013, the Ballymena man sold an estimated £681,000 worth of drugs, including substantial quantities of unauthorised and illegal prescription-only veterinary medicines including a range of antibiotics.
At a Proceeds of Crime confiscation hearing before Judge Marrinan at Antrim Crown Court on Thursday, Logan 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 a total of six charges (to run concurrently) which were before the court.
PSNI and Department of Health searches in the Cloughmills area of County Antrim in 2013 uncovered evidence of the illegal supply network, as well as significant amounts of cash.
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.”
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.”