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KAVANAGH CASE: Sentence delayed again after Gary Vickery no show despite judge's warning

A MAN who flew to the Canary Islands after being given unconditional bail at the start of the an international drug smuggling prosecution could face extradition after he failed to turn up in court, despite a stark warning from the judge to attend. Gary Vickery, 38, (above from Facebook) is still to be sentenced more than 14 months after he pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court via remote link in July 2020 to conspiring to import class A and B drugs, and money laundering.

He has been living on Lanzarote ever since while the case has been dogged by delays. Vickery was due to appear in person at Ipswich Crown Court on Monday, September 27, for a pre-sentence hearing, but the court said he failed to appear despite being given stark warnings to attend by Judge Martyn Levett at the previous hearing. The case was delayed by at least another two months and Vickery could now face extradition proceedings if the CPS honours a pledge made at the previous hearing in early September that "extradition proceedings would commence." Vickery, originally from Shirley, West Midlands, has been living in a villa in the village of Macher, on Lanzarote.

Judge Levett said at an earlier hearing the case has been dogged by "significant problems with people coming from abroad" due to the bail situation and coronavirus travel restrictions. Co-defendants Daniel Canning, 42, (above left) and Thomas "Bomber" Kavanagh, 53, (above middle) pleaded guilty to the same offences at the same time, while the former also admitted possessing a firearm and ammunition.

They are both remanded in custody and also still to be sentenced. The prosecution concerns 292 kilos of cocaine and 600 to 800 kilos of cannabis with a combined street value of more than £38 million. Although, in their basis of plea statements, still to be finalised with the prosecution, the three claim the amount of cocaine involved was much lower at 30 kilos. According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), the three are alleged associates of the Kinahan Cartel, an alleged major international drug smuggling network that originated in Ireland with bases in the UK, Spain and Dubai.

But, despite the gravity of the charges and their alleged international connections, Vickery and Canning were given unconditional bail from the outset of the case with neither the CPS nor NCA pushing for any conditions or a remand into custody. Until the no show, Vickery (above relaxing on Lanzarote) had attended all earlier hearings of the case remotely via video link.

However, he did not appear remotely on September 27. Warrants for the arrest of Vickery and Canning were issued in July after they failed to show at an earlier hearing amid claims they each wanted to be double vaccinated before travelling.

No further warrant was issued in respect of Vickery at latest hearing.

A court official said: "Mr Vickery did not attend this hearing nor was he on a link.

"At this hearing no arrest warrant was issued."

Vickery blamed his last non appearance on September 3 on being unable to book a PCR test to be taken upon arrival in the UK from Lanzarote. Judge Levett (below) said at the time: "I order your return and surrender (by September 27) and if you are not here extradition proceedings will continue and I will deal with the matter by way of breaches consecutive to the main offences

"If you fail to attend it will be another breach and contempt of court for which a sentence two years can be imposed. Do you understand?" Prosecuting, Reil Karmy-Jones told the hearing last month steps were "in hand for extradition proceedings to commence."

The court service has refused to say why unconditional bail was given, despite the seriousness of the charges, and the NCA will not say why it did not request the CPS to argue for conditions or custody. Ms Karmy-Jones said at an earlier hearing the prosecution made no representations about bail and the CPS has since claimed the pair did not meet "the threshold for custody." However, the CPS bail guidelines and the Bail Act say links to other jurisdictions and associates and the seriousness of the offence and length of likely sentence can all be taken into account. After another blunder in August, the NCA launched a review after Canning, from Dublin, was able to get through customs unchallenged at Stansted Airport before getting a taxi to court, despite the arrest warrant.

He later turned up at court, when the warrant was withdrawn, and is now remanded in Chelmsford Prison ahead of sentence. An NCA spokeswoman said: "A review of how this happened is underway so we won’t be commenting any further at this stage." Kavangh, from Tamworth, is in custody after being jailed in 2019 to a three-year sentence for possessing a stun gun disguised as a torch, which was discovered during a raid on his mansion as part of the same investigation into the cartel. The case was adjourned until December. A CPS spokesman said: "We’re not able to comment on this at this stage."

We contacted Nigel Power, barrister for Vickery for the case, to allow him to comment, but he did not respond.


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