Prison warder on drugs charges refused bail

Stephen Martin is facing drugs charges. Picture by Alan Lewis

A PRISON officer accused of smuggling drugs into a high-security jail claims he acted under threat from an inmate being held for "grave" offences, the High Court has heard.

Stephen Martin (23) was bringing his second consignment into HMP Maghaberry when packages of suspected cocaine, cannabis and diazepam were discovered in his boots last week, a judge was told.

Prosecutors said the haul, valued at £3,000 on the streets, could be worth ten times as much within the prison's confines.

It was also revealed that police expect to make further arrests as part of their investigation.

Details emerged as Martin, of Willow Lodge in Ballinderry, Co Antrim, was refused bail.

He faces charges of possessing Class A, B and C drugs with intent to supply; conspiracy to supply; misconduct in a public office; and conveying prohibited items into a prison.

Martin, who began working as a prison officer earlier this year, was detained as he arrived for work on August 18.

After refusing initial requests to be searched, the court heard he then removed packets from his boots and claimed to have acted under duress.

A Crown lawyer, who opposed bail, said police believed Martin "is part of a wider criminal network...involved (in) drugs being used and supplied both inside and outside the prison environment."

Peter Coiley, defending, argued that the accused immediately told police that he acted under threat.

Refusing bail, Mr Justice Stephens cited the risk of interference with the course of justice.

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