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Northern Ireland news

Woman charged over major cocaine seizure 'must wear an electronic tag'

A 42-year-old mother has been charged over a major cocaine seizure in west Belfast

A MOTHER charged in connection with a suspected £150,000 cocaine seizure in west Belfast previously likened to a scene from crime movie Goodfellas will have to put up with wearing an electronic tag, a High Court judge ruled today.

Joanne Cassidy's lawyers argued that her monitoring device and curfew should be lifted so she can enjoy summertime activities with her children.

But Mr Justice McAlinden insisted the 42-year-old is lucky to be on bail.

"She is where she is because of her role as a carer for children," he said.

"To come back to seek a variation of bail terms to remove the curfew and tagging, bearing in mind the nature and severity of these charges is, to this court's mind, somewhat rich.

"She will just have to put up with these restrictions placed on her for very good and legitimate reasons."

Cassidy, of Mount Eagles Grove in the Dunmurry area, denies conspiracy to possess a Class A controlled drug with intent to supply and possession of criminal property.

An earlier court was told an estimated £60,000 worth of cocaine was recovered during a police raid on the family home last October.

Officers also found £20,000 in cash inside a designer bag upstairs in the property.

At the time prosecutors claimed Cassidy was in a nearby kitchen "entertaining" while her husband James was mid-transaction when the house was raided.

Searches at the nearby house of another man led to the seizure of a further consignment of cocaine potentially worth £90,000.

A Crown lawyer claimed the suspected cocaine was dropped when the Cassidys' Mount Eagles Grove home was raided.

The operation, which involved the use of a police helicopter, also led to the seizure of the couple's Range Rover and Audi A4 vehicles, the court was told.

Joanne Cassidy had been in the kitchen with a friend when officers entered, and insisted she knew nothing about the drugs or the cash.

Granting bail last October, Mr Justice McAlinden expressed shock at the alleged scene of cocaine found all over the living room floor.

He said at the time: "It's more to do with Goodfellas and what one sees on television than one would imagine in a residential development in Dunmurry. But that is the modern world we live in."

Seeking a relaxation of the curfew and tagging conditions, defence barrister Sean Devine submitted: "They are causing some issues in terms of being able yo enjoy activities with the children and also, as we move into the summer months, her ability to have a little bit more freedom."

However, the judge ruled that the case should instead be reviewed again in four weeks' time.

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