Drug gang warned of 'bullet in head' if plan failed, court told
A Dublin-based gang suspected of smuggling nearly £1.5m (€1.7m) worth of cocaine and heroin into Northern Ireland warned someone would get "a bullet in the head" if the operation failed, a court heard yesterday.
Police claimed a man arrested after the drugs were seized in Belfast's docks area could now be under threat because of his alleged links to a violent outfit with networks in the Republic of Ireland and Holland.
Details emerged as 28-year-old Neil Davidson was remanded in custody on charges connected to the haul recovered last Friday night.
Cocaine with an estimated street value of £960,000 (€1.1m), heroin worth £500,000 (€576,000), and cannabis resin valued at £2,000 (€2,300) was found after officers stopped a car and trailer on the West Bank Road in Belfast.
Mr Davidson, of no fixed address but from the Portadown area, faces counts of possessing Class A and Class B drugs with intent to supply, and importing Class A and Class B drugs.
He is understood to have been detained shortly after exiting a ferry at Belfast ferry port. As he appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court, a defence lawyer confirmed he claims to have acted under duress.
Opposing bail, an investigating detective said Mr Davidson was believed to be part of an organised criminal gang importing drugs on a large scale. The accused was said to have refused to identify others, but mentioned contacts in Northern Ireland, Dublin and Holland.
District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told Mr Davidson's own safety could be at risk if released.
"There's a loss of £1.5m of drugs, and as the defendant said in interview, (he was told) somebody will be getting a bullet in the head if this operation went pear-shaped," the detective disclosed.
Defence solicitor Mark Crawford argued police were trying to "ride two horses" by claiming his client is connected to a violent gang yet also under threat.
Mr Crawford described the accused as "the perfect patsy" due to his lack of a criminal record and significant health issues. The court heard Davidson has had two liver transplants since 2004. Judge Bagnall refused bail and remanded Mr Davidson in custody.