A drug kingpin returned to crime just months after being freed early from a nine year jail-term.

Craig Convery was locked up in 2015 at the same time as three men were jailed for plotting to kill former Loyalist leaders Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair and Sam “Skelly” McCrory.

The 46 year-old was guilty then of being involved in organised crime including directing others in the storage and transportation of class A drugs.

A judge heard today how Convery – who previously owned a tyre firm in Paisley, Renfrewshire – was released on 17th January, 2020.

But, by April of that year, he was already back drug trafficking – while complaining the covid lockdown had made it “jail bait”.

Convery was soon busted again when encrypted messages linking him to the dealing were hacked into.

It lead to Convery today ending up back in the dock at the High Court in Glasgow.

He pleaded guilty – via his KC Thomas Ross – to a charge of being involved in serious organised crime and that he was concerned in the supply of cannabis and etizolam – known as street Valium.

Convery, of Paisley, was sentenced to four years by judge Lady Stacey. He must first serve around two years of the jail-term he was freed early from.

The court heard how Convery used the name “suddenjet” on the EncroChat phone network, which was favoured by criminals before it was smashed by the French and Dutch law authorities.

Prosecutor Tracey Brown said: “Between April 9 and June 4 2020, Convery sent and received hundreds of messages.

“There were exchanges discussing the sourcing and sale of cannabis and etizolam.

“This case is based on the inferences to be drawn from his EncroChat communications alone.”

The court heard there was no actual “physical” recovery of drugs due to the messages being found some time after they were sent.

But, there were said to be “agreements” for the purchase of hauls of cannabis as well as a texts that Convery took possession of “vals” believed to be etizolam pills.

The hearing was told one deal collapsed due to the “poor quality” of tablets.

In an exchange with another associate, Convery agreed to buy 330,000 pills at 6p each and has a “BT driver who can assist with transport”.

Convery later stated to the same EncroChat user, he could sell up to 30kg of cannabis.

Miss Brown: “There is a discussion of logistics and the challenges of moving product from one location to another at that time.

“This was during the first national coronavirus lockdown.

“Convery described the difficulty of moving product as “murder” and “jailbait”.”

The court heard he went on to complain business was “a wee bit slow”.

Another associate via EncroChat offered to sell cannabis to Convery stating he had “a big load next week”.

Miss Brown: “Images appearing to show cannabis packed into black bags are sent to Convery.

“There is reference to the product coming from Spain.”

Convery later replied that he would arrange for drugs to be collected.

There were further discussion with another individual about cannabis priced at £5,000 to £5,500-per kilo.

Convery also communicated through EncroChat with someone else offering an “MOT” – a test sample – of etizolam pills that he had for sale.

Lady Stacey cut the latest jail-term from six years due to the guilty plea.

In 2015, Convery was jailed along with Gordon Brown – who got six years – after £1m of drugs were discovered at a house and garage in Renfrewshire.

Despite there being no link to the charges, they had stood trial with three other men later convicted of the murder plot against Adair and McCrory.

Antoin Duffy was jailed for 17 years after the trial, Martin Hughes 11 years and Paul Sands 10 years.

By Grant McCabe

Renfrewshire News Court Reporter

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