Derry court told of record NI drugs seizure

 

A MEMBER of the RUC drugs squad has described two brothers from Limavady, Co Derry, as "drugs godfathers". The accusation was levelled at the brothers who, together with two other men, appeared in Coleraine court charged in connection with the biggest find of cannabis resin in Northern Ireland.

Forty kilos of cannabis resin, with a street value of £400,000, were found in Coleraine last Saturday. Details of an RUC drugs squad operation were given by a detective constable when four men appeared in Coleraine Magistrate's Court yesterday.

Three of the accused men each face three charges. Mr Alistair McKendry (33), a driver from Thorndene, Broughshane, Mr Joseph McGuigan (34), a painter from Meadowvale Park, Limavady, and his brother, Terence (28), are jointly charged with possession, possession with intent to supply and supplying cannabis resin last Saturday. The fourth defendant, Mr Edward Sharkey, of Moss Park, Derry, is charged with possession and with possession with intent.

The four appeared handcuffed in the dock and, as the charges were read out, several people in the public gallery shouted. One woman was removed on the instructions of Resident Magistrate Richard Wilson.

The detective said he believed he could connect the four accused men with the offences and he asked that all four be remanded last Saturday Mr McKendry was observed in a supermarket car park in Coleraine. "Police also saw the McGuigans sitting in a car near a fast food restaurant about a mile and a half away," the detective said.

"McKendry was seen to lift a large bag from his car and put it into Sharkey's front passenger seat. Police then arrested all four and when we examined the contents of the bag placed in Sharkey's car, we found 20 kilos of cannabis resin with a street value of £200,000," the detective said. Mr McKendry's house was then searched and a second bag, also containing 20 kilos of cannabis resin, was found in a garage beside the defendant's house.

The detective continued: "The police would describe the defendant McKendry as somebody who moves drugs on behalf of major suppliers. We would describe Sharkey as a runner for somebody who deals in drugs. The McGuigans are more like godfathers in that they never touch the drugs themselves.

On March 1st police observed a similar transaction taking place in Ballymena." The accused men were remanded in custody until April 21st.