Drug importer 'Weary Dog' fled to Spain but was caught after car crash in Marbella

Phillip Lam
Phillip Lam -Credit:Merseyside Police

A drug importer known as "Weary Dog" spent nearly two years on the run but was caught after a car crash in Spain.

Phillip Lam, who stored his cannabis in his own's nan's house, plotted to smuggle hundreds of kilos of illicit substances into the UK with weekly shipments from the continent. He also stood to make profits in the region of £10,000 per week as the head of a "criminal business" which trafficked wholesale quantities of heroin and cocaine, and was locked up for more than 15 years last week.

The ECHO previously reported that the then 31-year-old had fled the country before he was due to be sentenced for stealing the details of more than 1,000 credit cards to book flights and hotels in a scam worth in the region of a million pounds. He was able to fund a lavish lifestyle on the back of his deception, which left his victims significantly out of pocket and businesses on the brink of bankruptcy.

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Lam, of no fixed address but from Dingle, had failed to appear for his sentencing hearing in March 2021, having been released on bail after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud. The swindler was handed four years and nine months behind bars in his absence.

But Lam appeared in the dock at Liverpool Crown Court in December 2022 after being extradited back to the UK. James Rae, prosecuting on this occasion, described how he had been detained on an international arrest warrant in the early hours of November 6 the same year.

This followed a collision in Marbella, after which he had attempted to resist the Spanish police officers. Lam was then returned to Gatwick Airport with the assistance of Interpol and the National Crime Agency.

Together, he and co-defendant Steven Noone were said to have been "actively trading in and using stolen credit cards" in order to make purchases on behalf of third parties. Phones and computers seized from their homes revealed that they had cooked up a "successful and profitable scam" which involved them purchasing goods or services on behalf clients who contacted them on WhatsApp, messaging service ICQ or social media - where he advertised his cut-price deals.

These were then purchased using the stolen credit card details. Lam used gambling websites and a "mule" bank account in order to launder the proceeds, while he and his family flew on a number of international flights themselves, having made bookings for journeys and accommodation with the compromised cards.

Some of the cash was also converted into Bitcoin. The scam was initially reported by Jet2, the firm having seen more than 20 flights booked online without the knowledge of the legitimate card holder between May and September 2016 - totalling more than £21,000.

Subsequent investigations saw the two conmen arrested in July 2017. Thirty-eight-year-old Noone - of Childwall Priory Road, Childwall - was previously imprisoned for four years and nine months

Damien Nolan, defending Lam, said: "It is a deliberate attempt to evade justice, it is a serious offence. He appreciates it will be a sentence additional to the one imposed previously."

Wearing a black Nike zip-up hoodie in the dock, Lam admitted an additional charge of breaching court bail. He was handed an additional two months behind bars.

Sentencing, Judge Louise Brandon said: "What you did was a deliberate attempt to delay justice. You have a history of breaching court orders.

"You deliberately tried to avoid your sentence for a period of 21 months. There is little that can be said to mitigate your position."

The same court heard on Friday, May 10, the now 33-year-old had used the handle "WearyDog" on encrypted communications platform EncroChat. Messages revealed when the network was infiltrated by the French police during 2020 showed his involvement in the supply of 24kg of cocaine, 6kg of heroin and 158kg of cannabis.

Alex Langhorn, prosecuting, outlined how Lam, formerly of Taggart Avenue in Childwall, also discussed the importation of 318kg of the class B drug and the setting up of a grow with the expectation of yielding up to 10 kilos per crop. He added: "He used others to store and deliver drugs, and even had some cannabis stored at his nan's house."

The dad-of-two was said to have "started out as a junior partner" in the smuggling of drugs from Spain, but went on to arrange shipments amounting to hundreds of kilos using contacts in Central Europe. Lam has a total of eight previous convictions for 14 offences.

Mr Nolan said during his client's latest appearance: "He has not sought to invite me to make ambitious submissions about the evidence. He does not seek to quibble around.

"It does appear that he has applied himself diligently to work within the prison. His partner is going to have difficulty bringing up their children with their particular difficulties."

Lam admitted conspiracy to evade the prohibition of the importation of cannabis, conspiracy to supply heroin, cocaine and cannabis and conspiracy to produce cannabis. Appearing via video link to HMP Lindholme in Doncaster, he shook his head and put his face in his hands as he was jailed for 16 years and eight months.

Sentencing, Judge Gary Woodhall said: "It is clear that you were dealing in multi kilogram quantities of cocaine, diamorphine and cannabis. You conducted business with multiple other EncroChat users and drug dealers.

"These were multiple kilogram exchanges of drugs at a time. You imported cannabis from the continent, including from Spain. You spoke about having a system of weekly importations. It was clearly lucrative and regular.

"You also arranged the setting up of a cannabis farm and spoke of making £10,000 in profit per week. You even used your grandmother's house to store cannabis as part of this criminal enterprise.

"Your imprisonment will have a real impact on your children growing up without their father and your partner having to single parent those children. It is trite to say it, but it is true - you should have thought about your family before you embarked upon this criminal offending.

"What is clear is that you have caused shame and anxiety for your family. Positively, since you have been remanded into custody, you have applied yourself diligently and positively.

"This was your conspiracy, with you at the top. This was your criminal business."

Merseyside Police told the ECHO that Lam was identified as the user of the Weary Dog handle as it had been saved as "Lammy" in the phones of his associates. He also mentioned his children's names in his messages and referenced his partner's upcoming milestone birthday and the fact that he would be wanted by the force due to his impending trial for fraud offences.

Detective Sergeant James Boardman said following the hearing: “Lam’s criminal activity to conspire to flood the streets with drugs was prolific and he pleaded guilty to this. Our work continues to detect and arrest those involved in the sale and distribution of class A and B drugs.

"I hope it sends a strong message to perpetrators that we are taking action and we will bring them to justice. I think this sends a clear message to criminals that crime doesn’t pay

"We’ll continue to be relentless in our pursuit of offenders. I would ask anyone who has any information about who is supplying or selling drugs in their area to contact us so we can take action."

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