19 May 2022

Three men charged with drugs offences linked to the INLA are granted anonymity in Derry court

Four men accused of series of offences

Derry courthouse

Derry courthouse at Bishop Street.

Four men appeared in court in Derry today charged with drugs offences linked to the INLA.

Three of the men, who were arrested in Derry this week, were granted anonymity because of a 'general' threat against those charged with drug supply offences in the city.

However, a fourth man, who was arrested in Limavady this week, is allowed to be named publicly.

Derry Magistrates Court was told that all four men arrested were arrested as part of an investigation into the activities of an organised crime gang in the local area.

A police officer told the court that on July 29 last year, a 'senior' member of an 'organised crime gang' was arrested and a mobile phone was found in his vehicle.

Examination of the phone identified other people who were suspected of being involved in drug supply in the local area, the officer said, including the four people appearing before the court.

The officer said the four men were arrested yesterday, June 10.

The three men who cannot be named are 27, 30 and 42.

They are all charged with possession of Class B drugs and possessing Class B drugs with intent to supply.

Other charges include conspiracy to transfer criminal property.

Applying for an anonymity order in relation to the 42-year-old defendant, his solicitor Paddy MacDermott said there was a 'general threat' against people accused of drug-supplying offences in Derry.

“He may not be on their radar at this stage but as soon as he is identified then he would be on their radar so I would say that then becomes a specific threat.

“There have been, I believe, eight shootings in the city since the start of the year.”

When asked by the judge if there was a threat against the defendant, an investigating officer said there was no threat against him.

However, another officer confirmed that there was a 'general' threat in Derry against people charged with drug offences.

Based on that officer's evidence, the judge said she was willing to put reporting restrictions in place which, she added, could be reviewed at a later date.

No bail application was made on the defendant's behalf and he was remanded in custody until July 8.

Anonymity orders were also granted for the 27 and 30 year-old defendants.

The 27-year-old was also remanded in custody, while the 30-year-old was released on bail, also until July 8.

The fourth man to appear in court today was 34-year-old Aaron Kershaw, from Drumachose Park in Limavady.

His solicitor said that he was not applying for an anonymity order.

Kershaw is charged with possessing Class B drugs with intent to supply.

He is also accused of conspiring to transfer criminal property.

The court was told that he is also charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest in connection with his arrest yesterday.

A police officer said a mobile phone was seized from Kershaw but he has refused to supply investigating officers with the pin number or password to the phone.

The officer said police would object to Kershaw being released on bail due to concerns over further offending or the interference with other people involved in the case.

Despite police objections, he was released on bail of £250.

He must wear an electronic tag and observe a curfew from 7pm to 7am.

Kershaw is also to appear in court again on July 8.

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