herald

Monday 23 April 2018

'Mr Clean' worker guilty of role in €29m coke raid

COURT: Judge refuses to believe evidence from drugs trafficker

A JURY refused to believe the evidence of the international drugs trafficker known as 'Mr Clean' and instead yesterday found a former employee of the jailed criminal guilty of his involvement in a €29m cocaine operation.

Abraham Shodiya (44), of Carnlough Road, Cabra, will learn his fate next month when he is sentenced for his role in the plot which was successfully prosecuted by the Garda National Drugs Unit.

Gareth Hopkins (34) who is known as 'Mr Clean' told the jury that Shodiya was a "pawn".

Hopkins revealed he had organised the timber shipment containing cocaine through his "BG Logistics" company in Bolivia and Shodiya was "simply acting as a pawn, a puppet or a gillie".

"He assisted me under my instruction without any prior knowledge to what was going on," he told Blaise O'Carroll SC for the defence. But the jury took another view and found father-of-four Shodiya guilty.

Before the massive drugs bust in June of last year, Hopkins was a major player in Dublin's social scene and was pals with tragic model Katy French who died after taking cocaine in December, 2007.

Trinity College graduate Hopkins is now serving a 13-year jail sentence and was closely linked to a veteran Ballyfermot criminal who has barely any previous convictions despite a life of crime and while being on the Garda radar for well over a decade.

CONTAINER

Hopkins – whose older sister was a high-profile cancer campaigner who died tragically last year – gave evidence on behalf of Shodiya earlier this week.

Hopkins, giving defence evidence on day nine of the trial, said he grew to trust Shodiya as a "conscientious and hard working" employee.

Hopkins filled in his own PPS number and the pseudonym "Gary Kelly" on the bill of lading, a document used in goods transportation, when dealing with a shipping company ahead of the container's arrival to Dublin.

He had Shodiya deliver this document to this company because he was in Sierra Leone on business with his diamond mining firm. He told Mr O' Carroll that he paid all importation fees and organised the container's transport to the storage facility where the cocaine was concealed.

Hopkins said he gave Shodiya a "burner phone", a ready-to-go mobile phone purchased for easy disposal, a few days before the container's arrival and preprogrammed all relevant numbers on speed dial. He didn't tell the accused it was a "burner phone" but said it was so he wouldn't be spending credit on his own mobile.

He told Kerida Naidoo BL, prosecuting, that he didn't know his SOS Recycling employee had seen him remove drugs from a plank in the consignment.

The jury saw Shodiya break down in a videotaped garda interview on day five of the trial, as he described how he saw "white stuff" concealed inside the planks and asked himself: "What is this guy (Hopkins) up to?"

Detective Garda Oliver Hackett of the Garda National Drugs Unit asked him if he would agree he was "thrown into the sea with the sharks?" Shodiya nodded and broke down again.

He revealed he hadn't known his boss was into "shady business". Shodiya described in interview how he helped unload drugs from the container through the night. He was instructed next day to drive a trailer with a pallet of the drugs to an industrial estate and later go to Belgard Road in Tallaght with four packages from a plank.

hnews@herald.ie

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