Northern Ireland

Pauline Mackin: Primary school assistant faces guns and drugs charges

A primary school classroom assistant has appeared in court in connection with the seizure of guns and up to £30,000 worth of drugs.

Pauline Mackin, 51, of Downview Gardens in Belfast, is allegedly linked to a gang being investigated over the recovery of cocaine, cannabis and three guns.

She faces charges including conspiracy to possess firearms and ammunition.

Ms Mackin was granted bail at Belfast Magistrates' Court on Friday.

She is also charged with conspiracy to supply Class A and Class B drugs, as well as being accused of having cannabis with intent to supply.

'Suspended'

The court was told Ms Mackin works as a classroom assistant at a primary school in north Belfast.

A defence solicitor said it was his understanding that the accused "is going to be suspended from her job (as a result of these charges)".

Searches were first carried out at houses in Midland Close and Midland Crescent in the city last week.

The court heard that a submachine gun, pistol and a double-barrel shotgun were found in one property along with 18 cannabis plants and two hydraulic presses, while half a kilo of cocaine was found in the second.

One of the weapons was described as a flare gun, while the shotgun was said to be in a rusty condition.

Follow-up searches at Ms Mackin's home uncovered cannabis worth between £20,000 and £30,000 in a bin outside the property.

'No account'

The court was told that police claimed the same motif from the hydraulic presses had been stamped on those drugs.

A detective said the accused "could offer no account of how the drugs at Downview Gardens got to be there".

"It would be our case that this lady was involved with these other people," he said.

Two men, including Ms Mackin's ex-partner, have already been charged with a range of offences linked to the same investigation.

Granting bail, the judge banned Ms Mackin from having contact with either co-accused.

He also imposed a curfew and prohibited her from having a mobile phone.

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