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PSNI officer says anonymity necessary for man returned to Crown Court on drugs charges

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A man charged with drugs supply offences has been returned for trial, at Derry Magistrate’s Court.

The defendant, who appeared for a preliminary inquiry, was granted anonymity after a police officer confirmed that there is a live paramilitary threat in the city.

Defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott applied for an anonymity order in respect of his client saying there have been two shootings in recent weeks.

A journalist objected to the order on grounds of ‘open justice’, adding that the Court of Appeal determined there ‘should be a specific threat’.

Addressing the court, a PSNI officer said: “There is no specific threat.  In relation to this city it would be putting him at direct risk.”

The officer cited paramilitary shootings and beatings in the recent past.

He added: “It is normal in this city to grant an order in relation to restrictions.”

Based on the police officer’s submissions, Deputy District Judge Laura Ievers granted an interim anonymity order which banned the press from identifying the accused.

The defendant is charged with being concerned in the supply of Class A drug cocaine between September 14, 2017 and December 16, 2017.

He is further charged with possession of the same Class A drug and possession with intent to supply on December 18, 2017.

The accused was returned for his arraignment on May 27.

He was granted his own bail of £500.

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