Northern Ireland

Dunmurry: Two appear in court over £320,000 cannabis seizure

Lisburn courthouse
Image caption Deborah Mulholland and Declan Sullivan appeared at Lisburn Magistrates' Court on Saturday

A man and a woman have appeared in court in connection with the seizure of cannabis with an estimated street value of £320,000 in Dunmurry.

Deborah Mulholland, 29, and 28-year-old Declan Sullivan are charged with possessing class B cannabis and having herbal cannabis and cannabis resin with intent to supply.

The drugs were recovered following a search of a house in Cloona Manor.

Both deny the charge. Bail was refused.

The mother-of-three and her partner appeared in the dock at Lisburn Magistrates' Court on Saturday.

A detective constable told the court he believed he could connect the couple to the charges and revealed how the "intelligence led operation" uncovered the two types of cannabis in a shed at the rear of Ms Mulholland's home at Cloona Manor.

He said that inside the padlocked shed, the key to which was found in the kitchen, officers found a large hold-all bag which was filled with "nine bars" of cannabis resin which were "vacuum packed and quite professionally stamped" while the herbal cannabis was uncovered in a black bin bag inside a box.

During police interviews, both accused claimed they knew nothing about the drugs in the shed which was beside the back door and that they only went into it to retrieve kids bicycles and other such items.

The court also heard that although Mr Sullivan had a different address at Glenwood Gardens, also in Dunmurry, he told police he stayed with Ms Mulholland and their three children most of the week.

The officer said police were objecting to bail on the grounds that the find represented a "considerable financial loss" so they would be likely to commit further offences "to recoup the loss".

He told the court there were also "grave concerns" for the couples' safety as "community tensions would be running high specifically with regard to this type of offence".

Under cross examination from the couples' solicitor, the officer agreed that neither had any convictions for drug offences and that an address well outside of Belfast had been offered.

The solicitor submitted that with the case likely to hang on forensic and finger print examinations of the packaging, "realistically we are looking at several months down the line" before those findings are known and that in the meantime, three children would be without both parents.

He argued that "it's not beyond the realms of possibility that more sinister or cunning individuals" could have used the shed to store the drugs without either Ms Mulholland or Mr Sullivan knowing about it.

Refusing the bail application on the grounds of the risk of further offences being committed, District Judge Rosemary Watters said: "I find it hard to believe that neither of them didn't know that such a large amount of drugs was hidden in such a small shed".

"I suppose the reality is that these drugs are worth a lot of money and whoever owns them would not have put them in a place without knowing they were safe in some way or without knowing that the owners or occupiers were prepared to look after them - I think that's the real world in practical terms," said the judge.

They were remanded in custody to appear via video link later this month.