Northern Ireland

Three men in court over £250K cocaine seizure

Ballymena Magistrates' Court
Image caption Ballymena Magistrates' Court was told 32 blocks of cocaine were found when officers stopped a taxi

Three men have appeared in court charged with having cocaine worth about £250,000, with intent to supply.

The accused are Mark Nixon, of Westway in Londonderry; Dale McCormick, from Springvale Park in the city and Michael Anwyl, from Irwin Avenue, Limavady.

The court heard police found 8.8 lbs (4kg) of suspected cocaine when they stopped a taxi driven near Nutts Corner in Antrim on Thursday.

The drugs had been divided into 32 individual blocks.

'Intimidation'

Ballymena Magistrates' Court was told that Mr Nixon, a 43-year-old taxi driver, was behind the wheel when officers stopped the vehicle.

Mr McCormick, a 22-year-old builder, was also in the vehicle.

Thirty-year-old Mr Anwyl, who is unemployed, was not in the taxi at the time but police alleged he was "directing" the other two men.

A police officer said Mr Nixon and Mr McCormick were both forthcoming and answered all questions during police interviews.

He added that Mr Anwyl did not answer many questions and told officers that he had no involvement in drugs.

A defence lawyer applied for bail for Mr Nixon and Mr McCormick, but police objected saying they feared "there could be intimidation".

Officers also said they had "fears for their safety" if the two men were granted bail.

'Caught red-handed'

Mr Nixon's lawyer said his client was offered £400 to transport packages from Nutts Corner to Roe Valley Park in Limavady, County Londonderry.

He said that while the taxi driver had been "caught red-handed", he did not know what he was transporting but accepted that it was "something untoward".

The lawyer also said that his client, whose 43rd birthday was spent in court, was of good character and had no criminal record.

He added that "there's no evidential basis that there's a threat against my client".

But, the judge said she accepted that the police fears were "well-founded" and she refused bail.

The judge was also told that Mr McCormick had been "extremely frank" during police interviews.

The lawyer said his grandparents were willing to offer the deeds of the family home if bail was granted.

However, the judge rejected the application, telling the lawyer: "Nothing you can say will convince me he's a suitable candidate for bail."

There was no bail application for Mr Anwyl and all three will come before the court again on 19 December.