Northern Ireland news

Drugs seized from Co Down caravan 'linked to the UDA'

The High Court in Belfast

DRUGS worth £65,000 seized from a caravan are allegedly linked to the UDA, the High Court heard today.

Prosecutors said quantities of high purity cocaine and cannabis were located in a master bedroom of the static home in Millisle, Co Down.

Around £10,000 in bundles of cash was also recovered during last week's police raid.

Mark Matthew Magowan is charged with possessing and being concerned in the supply of Class A and B drugs in connection with the find.

The 40-year-old, of Carnalea Place in Belfast, faces a further count of having criminal property.

He was arrested along with a 44-year-old woman during the police operation on October 22.

During a bail application the prosecution claimed a house in Bangor searched as part of the investigation had "trappings of wealth" beyond the pair's legitimate means.

Officers then trawled through a caravan located in Millisle, discovering drugs in the bedroom drawers.

A Crown lawyer said the cocaine appeared to have been taken straight off a pressed block.

"The seizure is estimated to be worth £65,000, and approximately £10,000 in cash was also (recovered)," she submitted.

"It's a sophisticated, serious and well-organised enterprise."

She alleged the case is connected to the "West Belfast UDA organised crime gang".

The court heard Magowan's female co-accused claimed she had been under duress from local paramilitaries.

"She said she fell foul of one paramilitary group and was offered sanctuary by another," the prosecutor added.

Defence counsel Richard McConkey argued that Magowan knows nothing about the drugs.

"He doesn't own the caravan... it's not as though these items were found at his home," the barrister stressed.

"At the minute there isn't any forensic evidence to link him."

Bail was refused, however, due to the risk of potential re-offending.

Lord Justice Stephens said: "There's a prima facie case against the applicant that he was involved in what can only be described as a dark trade which is entirely destructive to the lives of others."

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