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Two men charged in connection with £50,000 cocaine find

Dean Smith (left) and Thomas Nicholl on a fishing trip
Staff Reporter

TWO Craigavon men have been remanded into custody accused of having around a kilo of "very pure" cocaine.

While 31-year-old Dean Smith did not apply for bail at Lisburn Magistrates Court on Saturday, his friend and co-accused Thomas Nicholl did apply but was refused after police claimed the pair "played an integral role in an organised crime gang."

Warehouse worker Smith, from Gilpin Park and unemployed Nicholl, from Knightsbridge, are jointly charged in four charges of supplying cocaine, possessing cocaine and having the class A drug with intent to supply and possessing class B cannabis on November 24 this year.

A fifth count against Smith alleges that he possessed cannabis with intent to supply on the same date.

The court was told that police stopped Smith's Vauxhall Vectra car in Gracefield Lodge in Dollingstown but having grabbed a "brick shaped object" from the footweel, he ran across a field towards undergrowth.

Nicholl, who appeared in the dock with his right arm in a sling, tried to run as well but he stumbled and fell, breaking his wrist in the process.

A police dog found the cocaine and then Smith who was hiding in a bush.

A small "deal bag" of herbal cannabis was uncovered in Nicholl's possession and a further bag was found on the dashboard of Smith's car, the court heard.

In relation to the cocaine, DC Hawkins said it was wrapped in clingfilm, inside a plastic bag within a tied sock but while its exact weight was not known, that was because the investigation team wanted to keep it "forensically intact" so it would be examined at the forensic lab.

The court was told the Cocaine had an estimated street value of around £50,000.

During interviews both Smith and Nicholl denied any knowledge of the cocaine, claiming they had gone to Newtownabbey to buy cannabis and had ran from police "in a panic."

Defence solicitor Conor Downey said that despite his claims during interviews, he had received "firm instructions" from Smith that "he alone was the only person aware of the existence" of the drugs and that according to him, "Mr Nicholl played absolutely no part in this whatsoever."

The lawyer said Smith had "volunteered that information....in the full knowledge that that would not effect the prosecution objections" to bail.

Smith and Nicholl will appear again in Craigavon Magistrates Court via videolink on December 16.

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