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Court told that one of the men shot recently in Derry has been charged with drug offences

Police concerns over threat against another defendant

Derry courthouse

Derry courthouse at Bishop Street.

A man accused of drugs offences has been granted bail with a £10,000 surety despite police objecting on grounds of a paramilitary threat.

The defendant is charged with possession of and being concerned in the supply of Class A drug cocaine.

He also faces charges of possessing, acquiring and converting criminal property, namely cash.

And is further charged with assisting an offence to be committed, namely obtaining cutting agents for controlled drugs.

The charges are in connection with the seizure of drugs at a house in the Bogside area of Derry last month.

Police said the drugs had an estimated street value of £80,000.

The accused was granted anonymity when he first appeared in court in connection with the charges due to the threat posed by paramilitaries.

A defence barrister applied for bail at Derry Magistrates Court on the basis that his client’s circumstances had changed after his co-defendant was granted High Court bail.

Police objections centre around what they say is a live threat against the accused.

His co-defendant, who was released on bail, was the subject of a shooting attack in Creggan on February 6.

Two men were shot in the legs during the gun attack at Rinmore Drive.

Speaking during the court hearing, a PSNI officer said: “Police at present believe the defendant is the target of an attack. He had that explained to him by police.”

She added that the defendant has refused to provide a PIN so that police can access his mobile phone.

The PSNI officer also said she believes he will commit further offences to recoup money lost.

Other suspects have to be identified, she said, adding that the man has previous convictions for drug offences dating back to 2012 and 2014.

Those include an offer to supply Class A drugs, the court heard.

A defence barrister said it is very important to put on record that the arrest of his client took place at commercial premises.

He described the defendant as owning a ‘very successful’ business in Derry which earned a ‘net profit five-figure sum’.

Those premises were searched but nothing was found, he said, but a small amount of ‘personal use drugs’ were recovered in the co-accused’s vehicle.

It was in a follow-up search of a residential property that drugs were found. The defendant and his co-accused have connections to that address.

The defendant’s brother, who lives in Scotland, owns the property, defence counsel said, and the defendant had been ‘opening and closing’ the house to allow workers in who were refurbishing it.

A number of people had access to the property to carry out work and a bag was discovered upstairs containing drugs and money, the defence barrister said.

The accused is ‘adamant’ he wasn’t in the property at any stage the items were found and says there will be ‘no forensic link’ to him.

Defence counsel added that police have ‘no information’ to suggest he was there when drugs were present.

The barrister said he doesn’t understand why police have ‘excluded other individuals as having access or delivering drugs to that property’, he continued, ‘it’s not a strong case, very much circumstantial evidence’.

The court was told that the defendant lives in the Waterside area and has no cause to cross the River Foyle.

“He has no intention of putting himself in a position that might put him in danger,” defence counsel said.

Deputy District Judge Liam McStay raised the matter of the defendant refusing to provide a PIN.

He was told that is correct because he has material of a personal nature and is ‘anxious to maintain that’.

He added that the defendant cooperated during police interview and dismissed the police suggestion that he would have to recoup financial losses.

Judge McStay granted the defendant bail with a number of conditions attached.

As part of those conditions his business partner has to provide a £10,000 surety, he has a curfew of 10pm-6am, will be electronically tagged and must report once a week to Waterside Police Station.

In addition, he must only possess one mobile telephone and provide police with details when asked.

His own bail was £750 and he will appear in court again on February 25 together with his co-accused.

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