A ruthless drug dealer told relatives ‘prison is easy’ as he was sent down for 11 years for importing heroin to the island.

Shaun Milligan appeared in the dock with Frank Harrison who were both arrested as part of Operation Bobcat, a major police investigation into organised crime.

The Court of General Gaol Delivery heard the pair had tried to evade arrest by driving at high speed through the back lanes of Douglas.

A total of 227.23g of heroin was seized. It had a street value of between £34,650 and £69,307.

Milligan, 47, of Manor Woods, Douglas, was a key individual in the organised crime gang, the court heard. He was jailed for a total of 11 years.

Harrison, 42, of Brisbane Street, Douglas, allowed his address to be used for the delivery of the drugs.

He was jailed for seven years.

As they were led to the cells, Milligan told family members in the public gallery: ‘Prison is easy’. In an exchange with his co-defendant he hit out at ‘rats’.

‘The only rat is you Shaun,’ replied Harrison.

Detective Inspector Jamie Tomlinson of the Serious and Organised Crime Unit said: ‘Shaun Milligan has been involved in the supply of controlled drugs for over 26 years here on the Isle of Man, having first been dealt with for drug supply in 1997.

‘Since that date, he was subsequently convicted of further drug supply offences and we believe he remained a prominent figure in the local drug scene for many years despite his previous incarcerations.

‘He was arrested, along with Mr Harrison, having taken possession of 277 grams of heroin shortly after it had been delivered to Harrison’s address in Douglas.

‘He had been instrumental in arranging its production, we believe from a Merseyside-based Organised Crime Group’

He added: ‘The length of this sentence reflects the seriousness of the matter and the commodity involved.

‘Heroin is a horrific substance which ruins lives, causes loss of life and leads to terrible addiction which in some cases makes users turn to crime in order to feed their habits’.

‘This is a welcome sentence which has taken a ruthless drug dealer off our streets for a significant period’.

The court heard that police had been in attendance at Brisbane Street in July last year when Milligan’s Vauxhall Astra was seen coming and going and the driver appeared to be watching out for someone.

This coincided with the time postal deliveries were made.

At 4pm a parcel was delivered by a courier firm driver. Milligan parked his car and was joined by Harrison at the rear of the property, who then got into the front passenger seat.

Police intervened but the car sped off, pursued by a marked patrol car.

The Astra was driven erratically and at speed through back lanes and streets and passed Murrays Road School.

Harrison was spotted trying either to throw something out the car or get out himself but it was going too fast.

The vehicle’s progress was then blocked by a police van and the pair fled on foot.

A carrier bag was thrown into a garden and Milligan was found hiding in shrubbery off Glen Falcon Road.

The TK Maxx bag was recovered. It was addressed to a Frank Jones and inside were six silicone tubes containing heroin.

During a search of Milligan’s address, £4,210 in cash was found hidden between the mattress and slats of a bed

When the same defendant had been arrested for an unrelated matter the previous month, £16,950 had been found in a JD Sports bag during a search of his home.

Milligan admitted offences of being concerned in the production of heroin and possession with intent to supply the class A drug, money laundering and dangerous driving. Harrison had pleaded guilty to the charges of importation and supply.

In a basis of plea, the latter claimed he had been approached by Milligan, who he had known since childhood, who had asked him if he could sent a parcel to his address as it was a ‘surprise gift’ for someone.

He said he was suspicious it might contain drugs but didn’t know it was heroin.

He said he had ‘frozen with fear’ when the car set off at speed pursued by police and the driver had told him the bag contained drugs.

Harrison’s defence advocate Jane Gray described her client as ‘gullible’.

‘He wasn’t aware of the gravity of what he was becoming involved in,’ she said.

Milligan’s advocate Deborah Myerscough said her client had turned his life around for a number of years after a difficult start but it had then ‘imploded’ around 2020 and he had made some ‘serious errors of judgement’.

Deemster Graeme Cook described heroin as a ‘disgusting’ drug which brought misery to the people who took it and who would do anything to fund their drug habit.