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Derry court: 4,000 highly potent diazepam tablets found after woman overdoses

Derry courthouse

Derry courthouse at Bishop Street.

Police discovered 4,000 highly potent diazepam tablets after a woman was admitted to Altnagelvin Hospital for a drug overdose, Derry Magistrate’s Court has heard.

A male defendant, who was granted anonymity, has been charged with possession of Class C drugs diazepam and pregabalin, as well as intent to supply and being concerned in the supply of the same drugs.

He is further charged with possession of Class B drug cannabis.

All of the alleged offences took place between December 21, 2020 and February 22, 2021.

A PSNI officer said there was no specific threat against the defendant but the generalised threat against people charged with drug offences in Derry is ‘extremely high’.

The court heard that on Sunday February 21, at 4.20pm, police were approached by a Ward Sister at Altnagelvin Hospital about a female who had been brought in because of a suspected overdose.

A support worker with a local charity attended the defendant’s address where a female was ‘unresponsive lying on a bed’, a police officer said.

The court was told that the defendant left whenever the support worker arrived and an ambulance was called.

The worker then lifted a white box which she believed to contain the woman’s medication, a police officer said.

At Altnagelvin a police officer opened the box and found 4,000 diazepam tablets, electric weighing scales and a quantity of pregabalin.

A police officer added that phones were seized and an additional 500 tablets were found in the woman’s handbag.

When the accused was arrested he had 24 tablets in his pockets.

A police officer said they are ‘fake diazepam’ believed to be up to ‘10 times stronger’.

Explaining why he didn’t initially open the door to police the defendant said, ‘I was afraid I was going to get a hiding because I lost them things yesterday’.

He told officers he couldn’t believe that the support worker would take something out of his flat that ‘wasn’t his’.

Three mobile phones were also seized at the property along with herbal cannabis.

A diary was found believed to belong to the female which detailed the number of drugs she took each day.

The woman is still in hospital on a heart monitor, a police officer said, but she was arrested in relation to alleged offences.

FAKE DIAZEPAM

During police interview the defendant said they bought 5,000 fake diazepam tablets on the dark web as he knew how to use Bitcoin.

He denies supplying drugs and said they ate 1,000 tablets in three weeks.

The court was told that the accused also admitted using other phones to order drugs.

If he was going to sell them, the defendant said, he would do so in batches of 1,000.

A police officer said that in the past the defendant got 1,000 tablets for £125 and he believed 5,000 tablets for £200 was a ‘good deal’.

The defendant has 11 previous convictions for ‘drug use and supply’ and has completed an enhanced combination order that was imposed in 2019 for supplying Class C drugs.

Objecting to bail, the officer believed the accused will reoffend and said a fourth phone that was seized has to be triaged.

He also raised concerns about bailing him to an address in Derry.

Defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott said his client is a ‘regular consumer of drugs’ and the phones found ‘don’t belong to him’.

Nothing on the phones linked him ton drugs supply, he added.

A fourth phone is in police possession, he noted, which could allay any concerns about interference with the course of justice.

Requesting bail subject to strict conditions, Mr MacDermott said his client has been ‘honest and upfront’.

The defence solicitor said his client could have put the blame on his partner but didn’t.

The address put forward is the only one available to him, the court heard.

Deputy District Judge O’Hare said the defendant got hold of a ‘luxurious quantity of drugs’ to the bail address and suggested it ‘might not be the best option’.

In response, Mr MacDermott said ‘the cat is out of the bag with him, that ship has sailed’.

Judge O’Hare referred to the scales that were found saying there is ‘more than a prima facie case’.

“I’m not satisfied the risk can be dealt with by any conditions,” he added.

The defendant was remanded into custody to appear in court again on March 18.

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