A District Judge at Derry Magistrate’s Court today granted anonymity to three men accused of possessing £150,000 worth of cannabis due to what he described as the threat from ‘certain criminal elements.’
District Judge Barney McElholm cleared the court before the case involving the three men from the city began.
He cited judgements in the British Supreme Court as well as the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal to support his decision to grant anonymity under Section 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights guaranteeing the right to life.
He said the court had a duty o protect an individual’s human rights and he added that there was no doubt there was a real threat against people on charges of this nature.
When the charges were read against the three they were referred to as AB, CD and EF.
AB aged 44 was charged with possessing cannabis with intent to supply, possessing cannabis and unlawfully supplying the drug on August 3.
CD was charged with three similar charges and EF was charged with two counts of possessing cannabis with intent to supply, two counts of possession, possessing criminal property, concealing criminal property and driving offences.
A police officer told the court that as a result of a police operation in the Blackthorn Manor area of the city on August 3 they recovered 5 kilos of cannabis in a car.
In a subsequent search of a house they found another 9 bars of cannabis resin and a further 2 kgs of cannabis.
They also found a mobile safe when opened was found to contain £19,000 in used notes.
One man, EF, was arrested at the scene and the other two at an address on the city side.
The officer said that police seized mobile phones.
The court was told that one of the defendants said that he was asked to go and meet a lorry driver and pick up a quantity of drugs so he asked the second defendant to drive him and accompanied by a young child they drove some 30 or 40 miles and met a lorry driver and received the package
Defence solicitor Mr. Seamus Quigley asked the officer was it true that his client had claimed that he was paid £150 for making the journey.
The officer said that this is what had been said.
Defence solicitor for EF Paddy MacDermott asked the officer had his client said that he did not want to say too much as he was afraid and the officer agreed.
Mr. MacDermott said that people ‘further up the foodchain’ in the supply of drugs would not allow anything on their own premises.
Bail was opposed on the grounds that the three could re-offend and the police officer said that the lorry driver had not been identified and there could be interference with witnesses.
Judge McElholm said that the only way to hit ‘these enterprises where it hurt ‘ was at a low level. He remanded all three in custody and ordered the press not to publicise the date they will next appear.