Woman freed pending further enquiries as solicitor condemns drugs arrest

A 27-year-old woman arrested in Derry yesterday as part of a drugs investigation has been released on police bail to allow for further enquiries.

The investigation is being headed up by the Paramilitary Crime Task Force and the PSNI’s Organised Crime Branch.

In a statement, Ciarán Shiels of Madden & Finucane, the woman’s solicitor, condemned the operation as “a distasteful and deplorable abuse of powers that are entrusted to police on condition that they are deployed responsibly and proportionately in combating crime affecting society.

He said the woman is an experienced and well-respected dental nurse working in a city centre practice who has no criminal record and has never been involved in criminality.

He says nothing incriminating was found during searches of her home and car.


Statement in full –


Earlier today, at 2.26pm a press release was issued generally to the media on behalf of a unit
in the PSNI Organised Crime Branch who characterise themselves as “The Paramilitary
Crime Taskforce” and are based in Limavady Police Station.
The statement announced “Paramilitary Crime Taskforce arrest woman in operation linked to
INLA in Derry”.
It continued: “A woman has been arrested in Derry today, Tuesday, 13 June, as part of a
proactive police investigation by the Paramilitary Crime Task Taskforce (PCTF) and Police
Service of Northern Ireland’s Organised Crime Branch.
“The 27-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of Being Concerned in the Supply of a
Class B controlled drug, and she remains in custody at this time.”
Ciarán Shiels of Madden & Finucane, the woman’s solicitor, condemned the operation as “a
distasteful and deplorable abuse of powers that are entrusted to police on condition that they
are deployed responsibly and proportionately in combating crime affecting society. The true
position at this time this afternoon, was that our client already was released from police
custody at 2.09pm and was being driven home from Strand Road Police station to recover
from her ordeal and to be with her family.
This 27 year old woman is an experienced and well-respected dental nurse who has worked
for a number of years in a city centre practice extremely proximate to Strand Road. She has
no criminal record. She has never been involved in criminality. Until this morning, she had
never been in a police station, much less been arrested or interviewed under caution. At
10.30am this morning officers from the PSNI arrived outside the dental surgery in two
landrovers and two police cars. A dog and a dog handler stood outside the surgery and traffic
was disrupted in the City Centre. In front of bemused patients and colleagues, our client was
singled out by officers. She was dressed in her dental scrubs and was assisting a dentist with a
patient in treatment.

Her nearby car was searched and she was then arrested in tears (not under Terrorist
Legislation) under the ordinary provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and
brought to Strand Road. Her family home where she resides with her elderly father and
brother was then also searched by a unit of the same officers. A number of mobile phones and
two USB devices belonging to herself and family members were seized. Nothing at all of an
incriminatory nature was found by police, either on her person, her vehicle, her home or her

This operation yielded no drugs, no paraphernalia, no tick-lists, no cash, no wrappings, no
scales and certainly nothing indicating support for the INLA or any paramilitary gang. She
was interviewed under caution for exactly 11 minutes (13.57 to 14.08). Six minutes of that
interview was taken up with the normal introductions, reading of the caution and normal
introductory statements from the police and defence solicitor.

Police then commenced the interview by asking “Q. Can you tell us why you are here?…”
Every single question thereafter asked of her was answered in full. Complete assistance was
offered and provided by her to police. Not a single shred of incriminatory evidence was
referred to. Not a single allegation of any kind was put to her, and at no stage whatsoever,
was the INLA or any terrorist or organised crime group (OCG) even mentioned. At the same
time other more senior members of this unit were drafting and disseminating their libellous
statement to public attacking her character in the most obscene, obsequious and unfair
Even at the point of her release police did not give her the basic warning or courtesy of
informing her that this statement had been released to the public concerning her ordeal.
We strongly suspect that this arrest and media publicity operation was ordered following the
release on bail of a significantly older half-brother of our client late on Monday after a
particularly contentious bail application. In that matter Deputy District Judge O’Hare was
extremely critical of inaccurate information provided to him by the PSNI PCTF and bail was
granted on strict conditions, notwithstanding the police objections. However to arrest a
woman with no criminal record, from her place of work where she is a well respected health
care professional wholly unconnected to criminality of any kind, and to then denigrate her
good name in the most egregious way, is to be condemned and deplored. We confirm that we
are raising this matter with the Police Ombudsman, her local political representatives, Colum
Eastwood her local Member of Parliament and will be issuing civil proceedings on her behalf
as soon as possible. I confirm that I have spoken directly with Mr Eastwood MP in respect of
this matter.”