Friday, 20 March 2009

Men deny drug informer conspiracy

Two men have denied being involved in a conspiracy to con the authorities into believing two drug smugglers had become informers, a court has been told.

Inner London Crown Court heard police made 35 "seizures" of items alleged to have been planted as part of the scam.

John Thompson, of Eton Court, Liverpool, denied conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Kenneth Darcy, 50, of Plum Tree Close, Stockbridge Village, Liverpool, has denied the same charge.

The pair are alleged to have been involved in a 1993 plot devised by John Haase, 59, and his nephew Paul Bennett, 44, after they had been arrested as the "British end" of an international operation involving a Turkish crime syndicate.

They decided to con the authorities into thinking they had turned on the underworld and become informers.

'Gobsmacked'

The court heard police made 35 seizures, some involving numerous weapons as a result of information being passed from the pair, but in reality all were set-ups designed to look genuine.

As a result of their apparent assistance, the sentencing judge invited the then Home Secretary, Michael Howard, to exercise the Royal Prerogative of mercy to cut their jail terms.

Once time spent on remand was taken into consideration, they were released after only just over a year.

The court has heard that Haase, Bennett and a number of others have been convicted for their part in the conspiracy.

Kenneth Darcy declined to comment to police over his alleged involvement.

John Thompson told police he was "gobsmacked" to hear there were claims against him.

Asked if he had involvement in any sort of criminality with Haase, he said: "No.

"To suddenly get this thrown at me is a bit of a shock."

Mr Thompson also pleads not guilty to an allegation of possessing five 9mm automatic machine pistols without authority, as well as a similar offence involving a quantity of ammunition.

The case continues.