Grandfather remanded after police seize drugs and cash

Court
Court

A grandfather has been remanded in custody after police seized £40,000 worth of cannabis and up to £34,000 in cash following a stop and search operation near Lisburn.

Eamon McGrath appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court to face money laundering and drugs trafficking charges following his arrest on the M1 motorway.

The 53-year-old, of Old Westland Road in the city, was in a car stopped near Sprucefield on Tuesday.

Searches of the vehicle led to the recovery of a bag said to contain £34,000, a judge was told.

Mr McGrath allegedly informed police he was taking the cash to Armagh to purchase catering equipment on behalf of one of his sons.

An investigating detective revealed that 2kg of suspected herbal cannabis were found during trawls of the accused’s address and a neighbouring property.

The drugs, located in a wheelie bin adjacent to Mr McGrath’s property, have an estimated street value of £40,000, the court heard.

Opposing bail, the detective said: “Police believe this seizure of cash and drugs represents the disruption of a supply network.”

She claimed the defendant could interfere with evidence and ongoing attempts to track down others as part of the investigation.

McGrath is charged with possessing criminal property, conspiracy to supply and conspiracy to possess cannabis with intent.

Defence lawyer Fergal MacElhatton argued that his client had voluntarily disclosed the presence of the cash in the car when he was stopped.

The money was to buy equipment for a son’s restaurant and takeaway renovation business, it was claimed.

Mr MacElhatton insisted nothing was being concealed in the car, and contended that no evidence links Mr McGrath to drugs he had never seen before.

Referring to the accused as a father of six and grandfather to nine, the solicitor added: “This is a side show... a weak prosecution case.”

But refusing bail, District Judge Fiona Bagnall cited the risk of reoffending and interference with evidence.

“Pulling all the strands together, as outlined by the detective constable, I don’t see this as weak a case as you do Mr MacElhatton,” she said.

Mr McGrath was remanded in custody to appear again by video-link on June 14.