Mid-West’s “biggest drug dealer” faces financial ruin

The Co. Clare grandfather and drug lord lost his appeal against a High Court judgement.

Described as the biggest drug dealer in the mid-west, John McCormack now faces legal bills of hundreds of thousands of euros and will lose his family home and a plot of land following a Court of Appeal decision to uphold a judgement in favour of the Criminal Assets Bureau under the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996.

McCormack (49), with addresses in Shannon, Limerick and the Canary Islands, unsuccessfully sought to have a High Court ruling overturned that houses in Limerick and Clare were bought with the proceeds of crime.

Mr Justice Owens said at the Court of Appeals that CAB’s case had been “that since the 1990s, Mr McCormack has been involved as a leader in organised criminal activities which have included the import and supply of large quantities of controlled drugs, dealing in stolen goods and organising cash in transit robberies”.

The judge said McCormack’s spending on property could not be accounted for on the basis of the income he presented to the courts, such as breeding dogs, renting machinery, selling gates, injury claims and lottery winnings.

“The only credible explanation is that the hole in financing has been filled by cash and other value which represented the proceeds of serious crime and I am satisfied that the assets used to acquire them were not merely derived from an increase in wealth as a result of having taxed or untaxed income from legitimate business activities,” the judge said.

“In my view, the evidence establishes that any businesses which Mr McCormack and his wife engaged in over the years were side-lines financed by his criminal activities and that his main business and the source of finance for these side-lines and much of his wealth was crime.”

Whilst not yet able to make a claim on at least three other properties in Fuerteventura, CAB were entitled to have their legal costs covered by McCormack according to the judge, which will reportedly amount to several hundred thousand euros.

McCormack had previously argued he should not have to sell any properties in the Canary Islands to cover his own legal bills, as the value had dropped during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Detective Sergeant Kevin O’Hagan described McCormack as a  “career criminal” who sold drugs for over thirty years, becoming a leader of an organized crime gang in Limerick in 2001.

The court heard that McCormack’s wife, Helen Collopy McCormack, was found with £9,500 in forged sterling notes in 2002, with her husband engaged in a litany of other criminal acts since.

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