Northern Ireland

Maghera lorry driver in court after £400,000 cannabis seizure

A lorry driver accused of bringing £400,000 worth of herbal cannabis into Northern Ireland thought it was tobacco, the High Court has heard.

John White, 32, of Crew Road, Maghera, County Londonderry, is alleged to have loaded up five boxes of the cannabis while in England.

White faces charges of having, supplying and conspiracy to supply Class B drugs.

He was arrested as he waited for his legitimate cargo to be unloaded.

The court heard he had been in England collecting bread for a supermarket delivery.

Two other men detained in Belfast and Banbridge as part of the same police operation have also been charged with conspiracy to supply the cannabis.

The court was told White drove his lorry to meet a man in another vehicle after returning on the ferry from Cairnryan in Scotland.

Kate McKay, prosecuting, said he was observed putting on surgical gloves to help transfer five boxes into the car.

Police later seized three packages from another vehicle and two from a property in Belfast.

Twenty kilos of the drugs, with an estimated £400,000 street value, were recovered in total.

A defence lawyer said the offer of work was first put to his client when he got talking to a man on a previous ferry crossing.

"He was only able to do it because he was delivering a legitimate job to England and collecting bread in Rugby to bring back to the Tesco distribution centre on the Boucher Road," he added.

"He was able to pick up these boxes which he had been told were tobacco, continue on his journey to Cairnryan and back to Northern Ireland."

After being told that a £5,000 cash surety was available, Lord Justice Higgins said he wanted time to consider the bail application.

He is expected to give his decision on Monday.