Three bailed on £2.5m cannabis charges

 

Three men appeared in court today on charges relating to Northern Ireland's largest-ever seizure of cannabis.

Mr Nigel Carter (36) from Roundway, Rossal in Fleetwood, Lancashire; Mr Stephen Martin (40) from Windslow Grove, Carrickfergus; and Mr Stephen Spence (28) from Glenlea Park, Belfast, were remanded on bail on charges of possession with intent to supply and possession of a £2.5 million drugs haul.

The cargo of more than 500 kilogrammes of cannabis was recovered from a lorry on an industrial estate on the Woodburn Road in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, earlier this week.

A detective constable told Belfast Magistrates' Court that it was the largest consignment of cannabis seized in Northern Ireland and he believed the consignment was linked to loyalists.

The officer told the court that Mr Martin was present when the lorry arrived and he was assisting Mr Carter in removing the packages with the help of a third man who was subsequently found to be an innocent party.

Mr Spence was close by and evaded police for around two hours. He was eventually caught with the help of tracker dogs in bushes a short distance away.

Police believe the cargo which had travelled on a ferry from Liverpool was bound for pubs and clubs in Northern Ireland.

The court heard that the lorry belonged to Mr Carter, a HGV fitter from Fleetwood.

All three were remanded on bail of £5,000 each to appear at Belfast Magistrates' Court on August 14th on the condition they surrender their passports, have no contact with each other and report regularly to police stations.

PA