Northern Ireland news

Newry man in court on charges linked to the 'transport and shipment' of drugs and cash

A CO Down man appeared in court today on charges linked to the"transport and shipment" of drugs and cash.

Prosecuting lawyer Robin Steer told Craigavon Magistrates Court that having accessed messages and images on an encrypted phone, police believe that Bryan McManus (64) is involved in the “transport and shipment of large quantities of drugs and cash,” adding that “we say he is connected to a criminal network.”

McManus appeared at court via videolink from police custody and confirmed that he understood the 12 charges against him.

The 64-year-old, from Aileen Terrace in Newry, was charged with nine drugs offences accusing him of conspiring with others to import cocaine and cannabis, being concerned in the supply of the class A and B drugs, conspiring to possess cocaine and cannabis, conspiring to produce cannabis and two counts of simple possession of cocaine, all alleged to have committed in dates between March 25 and June 15 this year.

The engineer was also charged with possessing criminal property and conspiring to convert and conceal criminal property.

Giving evidence to the court, Detective Constable McDonald said he believed he could connect McManus to each of the charges.

Mr Steer, who said prosecutors were opposed to bail, told District Judge Mark McGarrity how detectives had been able to access a previously encrypted phone which was found to contain “a very large number of messages regarding the transport and shipment of very large quantities of drugs and cash.”

Some of the messages referred to amounts of money up to £300,000 while other referred to “cocaine testing kits and a metal press used to make blocks of cocaine,” said the lawyer adding that investigators believe they can connect McManus to the encrypted phone.

Further to the messages which prosecutors claim link McManus to the phone, officers uncovered an image on the previously encrypted phone linking it the inside of McManus's home.

The search also uncovered “two small quantities of cocaine” but during interviews, McManus denied knowing anything about them, claiming they “must have been left by others after a party.”

Under cross examination from defence solicitor Joseph McVeigh, DC McDonald agreed that no cash or trappings of wealth “such as jewellery or Louis Vuitton type stuff” had been found during searches of McManus’ property.

The lawyer put to him that no encrypted phone had been found but the officer said the six mobile phones which had been seized “are still to be assessed”.

Despite defence submissions from Mr McVeigh that nothing significant was actually found, other than the small amounts of cocaine, that the case against McManus “is entirely circumstantial....and is tenuous” .

The district judge however refused bail and remanded him into custody until July 31.

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