A BUILDER had heroin valued at more than £4million in the back of his van when he was stopped by police.
Liam Kerrigan was delivering a ‘major consignment’ of the drug from Liverpool for distribution in the North East, a court heard.
“The Vauxhall van was stopped on the A1(M) as it was being driven between Durham City and Chester-le-Street,” prosecutor Shaun Dodds told Durham Crown Court.
“Kerrigan, who was the driver and only occupant, began to shake uncontrollably as the police approached.
“A search of his van found eight sealed containers in a JD Sports bag, and four mobile phones.
“The bag was found to contain 3.9kg of heroin at a high 56 per cent purity with a value of up to £4.4million.”
Kerrigan told police he had been told to park his van near his home in Liverpool a few days earlier and leave it unlocked.
When he returned the holdall was in the front passenger foot well.
Mr Dodds added: “His instructions were to drive to Newcastle.
“He was told he would either receive a phone call on the way, or if he did not, he should stop at Newcastle and ring a number he had been given.
“He was stopped before any call was received or made.”
Kerrigan, 35, of St Anne’s Gardens. Liverpool, admitted possessing a class A drug with intent to supply it on June 12.
Tony Davis, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Kerrigan got himself in debt to a loan shark, and got behind with the payments.
“He was told he would be delivering some ‘puff’’, which he took to mean cannabis.
“He is no more than a patsy who has been used by criminals far more sophisticated than he is.”
Judge Robert Adams jailed Kerrigan for three years and four months.
The judge told him: “There is no evidence you knew the nature of the drugs, but you must have known it was a significant amount due to the weight of the package.
“I accept you were only a courier, and you had no influence over those who gave you the drugs to carry.
“You have shown a degree of remorse, but I suspect that is only because you were caught.”
The judge ordered the confiscation and destruction of the drugs, and the confiscation of Kerrigan’s van.