Northern Ireland

Newry businessman in court over suspected herbal cannabis haul refused bail

The PSNI seized suspected herbal cannabis
The PSNI seized suspected herbal cannabis

A NEWRY businessman appeared in court yesterday after suspected herbal cannabis worth up to £10m was seized during a search at a haulage yard.

Gary McGeown (34) of Belfast Road, in Newry, Co Down, appeared at court in Newry via video-link from police custody.

The father-of-three is facing a number of drugs charges as well as a charge of converting criminal property.

Deputy District Judge Trevor Browne refused bail, saying it is "too dangerous" to consider at this time.

The court heard that the charges arise from a search of Mr McGeown's business premises on Tuesday.

Prosecution barrister Robin Steer told the court that during the search of a trailer containing ceramic tiles, police found bags of suspected cannabis.

Some of the bags were found in what were described as "hides" inside the tile boxes.

The prosecution said that there were also empty boxes with hides found in the haulage yard.

McGeown confirmed that he understood the five drugs against him which included importing cannabis, simple possession and possession of the class B drug with intent to supply on March 30 this year and two counts of being concerned in making an offer to supply cannabis between March 30 and April 16 last year.

During a contested bail application, prosecuting counsel Robin Steer told the court it is the police case that McGeown, the managing director of McGeown Logistics haulage firm, “is involved in the shipment of large quantities of drugs, as is evidence from this find.”

Prosecutors opposed bail.

Defence counsel Joseph O’Keefe confirmed with the police officer in court that McGeown had been “fully cooperative” with the investigation, had answered all questions, gave officers full access to his haulage yard on the Rathfriland Road and lists of all employees.

He submitted that with a package of bail conditions, including a £30,000 cash surety available, the court could have “trust and confidence” that he would abide by those conditions.

Describing the offence as amounting to an “extremely sophisticated international operation,” Deputy District Judge Trevor Browne said he was satisfied that the “stakes in this case are so high that there must be every incentive for anyone cover their tracks.”

He said he was refusing bail due to the risk of the investigation being obstructed and remanding McGeown into custody, adjourned the case to April 28.