A MAN caught with eight cocaine deal bags inside a BMW with false number plates claimed he had been helping a friend out with takeaway food deliveries and the drugs had been left behind in the vehicle by an “unknown male” who had been given a lift.
Pedro Correia (26), of Drummaul Park in Randalstown, appeared before Antrim Magistrates Court.
A prosecutor said at 10.30pm on August 15 this year police saw a BMW in the area of Stiles Way in Antrim and they believed it had false number plates.
They stopped the car and spoke to the driver who said he didn’t own the vehicle and didn’t know the name of the owner and that he was “doing some work in the car for the owner”.
Police searched the vehicle and the defendant and found a ‘V5’ for a BMW with a different vehicle registration but the ‘VIN’ number matched the vehicle he was in.
Officers found eight ‘deal bags’ of cocaine in a compartment near the steering wheel and there was a food transport bag with ‘Just Eat’ printed on it in the rear seat.
The prosecutor said the defendant was conducting deliveries on behalf of a local takeaway but his insurance did not cover him for food deliveries.
The defendant told police he bought the car from a Polish man in Omagh and had been given directions as to where to collect the car.
Correia told police the man had “broken English” but had told him the plates on the car were incorrect.
The defendant said he had driven the car home and parked it on his driveway and received a phone call from a friend saying his car had broken down and he needed the defendant to finish his delivery shift for a takeaway firm.
Correria said he knew the car had false plates but “took a chance just because he was being a good friend”.
The defendant said that whilst doing deliveries he picked up an unknown male and had given him a lift into the town.
Correria told police the male was intoxicated and when he dropped him off and went to collect his last delivery and looked into the car he noted a bag in the rear where the male had been sitting.
The defendant said he picked it up and examined it and after a friend said it looked like cocaine the defendant claimed he “panicked” and put it in the compartment near the steering wheel and said he was worried about it which was why he didn’t tell police about it.
There was a total of 19 grammes of cocaine.
Defence barrister Aaron Thompson said the defendant had entered early guilty pleas to charges of possessing cocaine; using a vehicle without insurance and fraudulent use of registration plates.
He said the defendant “found the drugs in the car” but he pleaded guilty as he admitted he had “assumed ownership”.
District Judge Nigel Broderick said possession of Class A drugs was a “concern to the court”.
The defendant received a three months jail term, suspended for a year; and was given six penalty points which put him over 12 points and led to a six months driving ban.