Northern Ireland news

Man stopped in taxi with £120,000 worth of cannabis was `naive courier', court told

Sloan, of Knock Road in the city, is also accused of having cocaine with intent to supply

A PERSONAL trainer stopped in a taxi with £120,000 worth of cannabis was acting as a "naive" alleged courier, a court has heard.

Rory Sloan was arrested at the weekend after police discovered the consignment in the boot of the car close to his home in east Belfast.

The 21-year-old appeared at the city's magistrates court charged with possessing and being concerned in the supply of Class B drugs.

Sloan, of Knock Road in the city, is also accused of having cocaine with intent to supply.

He was detained as part of a wider investigation by the PSNI's Paramilitary Crime Task Force.

The court heard Sloan was in the back of the taxi stopped on the Knock Road dual carriageway on Saturday.

At the scene he indicated to officers that there were items in the boot of the vehicle.

A detective said: "It contained 18-19 vacuum bags of suspected herbal cannabis with a street value of £120,000."

Follow-up searches at Sloan's property yielded high-purity cocaine worth an estimated £7,000 and other drugs paraphernalia, according to police.

A number of Rolex watches were also seized, although a defence lawyer insisted they are fakes.

Opposing bail, the detective claimed Sloan is part of a larger criminal network and may now be under threat because of the confiscated drugs.

He disclosed that the taxi had been on a routine call, heading to an address in the nearby Belvoir estate.

Sloan's solicitor described him as an impressionable young man who has never previously been in trouble.

Based on the charges facing his client, Andrew Russell argued: "He's at a very low-level, a courier in this trade taken advantage of by others.

"He is very naive and hasn't really considered the consequences of his actions; he's in shock about the position he finds himself in."

District Judge Mark McGarrity was told Sloan worked as a personal trainer and also started a sweet shop venture.

Bail was refused, however.

Judge McGarrity remanded Sloan in custody, to appear again in a week.

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