Northern Ireland news

Security guard (28) accused of allowing Cookstown home to be used as drugs factory on 'industrial scale', court told

The high court in Belfast

A security guard allegedly allowed his home to be used as a drugs factory on an "industrial scale" in return for £1,000, the High Court has heard.

Cocaine with a street value of £600,000 and cannabis-infused chocolate bars were seized during a raid on 28-year-old Philip Carson's house in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.

Police also confiscated £10,000 in cash, drugs paraphernalia and a car in the operation on October 8.

Carson, of Drumearn Road in the town, faces charges of possessing cocaine and cannabis with intent to supply, having criminal property, and permitting his home to be used for the production of drugs.

The court heard he was present with two co-accused who were wearing chemical-style hazmat suits when police entered.

Opposing Carson's bid to be released from custody, Crown lawyer Lauren Cheshire claimed the cocaine was in the process of being converted into blocks for storage and onward transportation.

"It stands to reason he was there as an individual trusted by these criminal elements who are some way up the supply chain," she said.

"It seems this man of good character has become very deeply involved in the production and distribution of drugs."

Craig Patton, defending, argued that unlike his co-accused, Carson was dressed normally and in a different part of the house when police arrived.

"Cannabis found in chocolate bars in the fridge, he accepted that," Mr Patton said.

"But it's in no way similar to the trade that was going on in an industrial scale."

Describing his client as impressionable, the barrister added: "He (Carson) outlined in interviews that he had been asked for the use of his premises in return for £1,000."

Granting bail, Mr Justice Humphreys said it was a "borderline application".

He ordered lodgement of a £5,000 cash surety and banned Carson from leaving Northern Ireland.

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