A man who police claim is a member of an organised crime gang has appeared in court accused of smuggling cocaine into Maghaberry prison.
Wayne Thomas Orr, 39, from Boundary Walk in the Shankill area of Belfast, is accused of possessing cocaine, supplying the class A drug to another and conveying a list A article to a prisoner, all alleged to have been committed last Thursday.
A PSNI officer told Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Saturday he believed he could connect Orr to the offences, and during a contested bail application, claimed he was part of an organised crime gang, some of whom are already in custody.
A prosecuting lawyer described how staff at the maximum security jail contacted police to report a visitor had passed an item to a prisoner.
That item, said the lawyer, turned out to be a small plastic container with 11 grammes of white powder inside which gave a positive result for cocaine in a field test.
Two others were arrested alongside Orr but they have been freed while police conduct further investigations, and the officer told the court “police believe it’s part of a wider joint enterprise”.
Orr admitted he had brought the drugs to the jail, claiming he had been handed them two days previously.
“It’s our belief that he is part of an organised crime gang based in the Shankill area that are heavily involved in dealing with controlled drugs,” claimed the officer. “The person in the prison is also a member of that gang which we have been investigating for the last year.”
Defence barrister Jonathan Connolly submitted that Orr had an historical record and that with an alternative address at his mother’s caravan in Millisle, the father of two could be safely freed on bail.
The officer said if the court was minded to grant bail, he had a number of conditions including a list of people Orr should be barred from contacting including alleged leading loyalist David ‘Dee’ Coleman.
Alleged UDA leader Coleman, from Hopewell Crescent in Belfast, is charged with membership of a proscribed organisation between June and October 2017.
He was arrested by detectives from the PSNI’s Paramilitary Crime Taskforce during an operation involving 14 searches at locations in the city, Holywood and Portadown.
Nearly 30 suspected members of the UDA’s notorious C Company battalion based in the lower Shankill area are under investigation, a previous court was told.
The unit is allegedly involved in extorting local businesses, punishment beatings, intimidation, drugs and loan sharking.
Coleman is accused of holding a position of second in command, according to the police and prosecution case.
Orr was freed on his own bail of £500, and is due to appear again on June 4.