Ireland jails HK man in drugs cartel

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 June, 2006, 12:00am

A Hong Kong man who helped a drugs cartel because he feared for the safety of his extended family has been jailed for two years in Dublin.

Yau Sing-fai, 50, was found with chemicals that could have created more than $80 million worth of Ecstasy and amphetamines.

The chemicals were found in 200 steel barrels labelled 'vegetable oil' destined for export to Dublin from the Netherlands in May 2004.

Sentencing Yau at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last week, Judge Michael White said he was satisfied Yau was 'acting under elements of undue distress', fearing for the lives of his family in Hong Kong.

Most of the chemicals, identified as 'PMK' in court, were discovered in the Netherlands and a surveillance operation trailed the shipment to its pickup point in Dublin port, where Yau unloaded the barrels and took them to a warehouse. Police also seized chemicals, identified as 'BMK', from Yau's home.

The court heard that Yau visited the mainland and the Netherlands to oversee the operation, and police found film at his home showing him filling the barrels.

Police said they believed Yau, an Irish citizen involved in buying and selling racehorses, did not profit significantly by taking part in the drug smuggling. Yau had told police he initially believed the barrels contained expensive massage oil and was subsequently pressured by a drugs gang to finish the job.

Yau's lawyer, Brendan Grehan SC, told Judge White that Yau's involvement had come about because of his 'gullibility and willingness to help others'.

He told the judge that Yau had been involved in fund-raising work in Ireland and Hong Kong, and was regarded as someone with 'exceptional moral character'.