Northern Ireland news

'Drug-laced Haribo bags in UVF haul'

Laganside Court in Belfast

A £30,000 cannabis haul allegedly linked to the UVF included dru-glaced packets of sweets, a court heard.

Police said fake Haribo bags were part of the seizure during a house search on Saturday. Details emerged as two men appeared before Belfast Magistrates Court yesterday.

Michael Cousins (24), of Clonduff Drive in the city, and James Titey (21), of Thorncroft in Ahoghill, Co Antrim, are charged with possessing class-B drugs with intent to supply.

Cousins is also charged with being concerned in the supply of cannabis.

Police said officers from the Paramilitary Crime Task Force investigating drug activity linked to the East Belfast UVF charged the pair following the seizure of suspected herbal cannabis and cannabis edibles. In court yesterday it was claimed that 2kg of the drug, with an estimated street value of £30,000, was discovered at Cousins’s property.

Up to 100 bags of cannabis-lacked bags of Haribo, allegedly purchased for £1,000, were also seized. Cousins denied knowing anything about the main haul found inside a box.

His lawyer Feargal MacElhatton argued that his client remained at the scene and gave police a full explanation. Cousins was refused bail, however, and remanded in custody to reappear in four weeks.

District Judge Mark McGarrity was told that Titey tried to escape through a window. He claims to have acted under duress, a detective said. “He stated that he was forced to bring cannabis to the house by elements within the UVF,” the officer added.

Brendan Blaney, defending Titey, said: “There has been an element of using this young man.” His bail application was adjourned to allow further information to be provided.

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