Court hears police seized computer containing details relating to large sums of money being exchanged for cannabis to be posted to addresses and over £15,000 cash was found in a Tesco bag

General image of a Tesco bag - Edited (1)
A general image of a Tesco bag.

Police seized a computer containing details relating to large sums of money being paid out in return for cannabis being sent to addresses in Northern Ireland, a court heard on Thursday.

As part of a follow-up search at least £15,000 in cash was found in a Tesco bag in a house in Ballymena, the town’s Magistrates Court heard.

Details surrounding an alleged ‘drugs gang’ emerged during a failed bail application by Charles George McFall (44), whose address was listed as Ballymoney Road, Ballymena.

The defendant is alleged to have conspired with three others to unlawfully supply cannabis between December 3, 2016 and April 2 this year.

The accused is also charged with possessing cannabis on June 12 this year.

A third charge alleges that between December 2016 and April this year McFall ‘concealed, disguised, converted or transferred criminal property, namely cash’.

A fourth charge accuses him of the same offence of concealing criminal property – cash – on June 12 this year.

He appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday via video link from Maghaberry Prison where he has been on remand.

Objecting to bail a detective constable said police carried out a search in July last year in a house in the Harryville area of Ballymena when a laptop was recovered and after examination it was called ‘George’s computer’ and it had back-up details of a phone called ‘George’s iPhone’.

The officer alleged an app called ‘WeChat’ similar to WhatsApp’ was used and a conversation between McFall and a co-accused, which went back around six months, showed packages were to be sent to addresses provided by McFall and in turn large sums of money would be sent through a bank account.

The officer said there were also pictures of large packages sent by post.

The policewoman told the court that McFall was arrested in February this year and between £15-£20,000 cash was found in a Tesco bag which had the defendant’s fingerprints on it.

The officer said she objected to bail saying a number of searches had taken place centring on “this gang’s activity” and large amounts of drugs and cash were recovered.

The court heard drugs were found in areas including Ballymena and Larne.

She said there was also a risk of McFall fleeing Northern Ireland as he had visited a “Northern Ireland Supporters Bar in Benidorm”.

Defence barrister Neil Moore said the defendant had been arrested in February this year and released on police bail which he had not breached.

He said a co-accused had in fact “fled to Spain at one stage” before returning to Northern Ireland and being arrested in the Ballykeel area of Ballymena and had since been given bail.

The police officer said acquaintances of McFall’s had used “false documents” and she feared he could do the same if released.

Mr Moore said two other co-accused are in custody.

He said McFall had a limited record which included some drugs matters, but “any of note” dated back to 1997.

Mr Moore said unemployed McFall was a married man with seven children and he and members of his family were carers for a family member with a disability.

The defence lawyer said McFall knew the laptop had been seized and if he had wanted to flee the jurisdiction he could have done so since February but he hadn’t.

Mr Moore said the defendant has family commitments and is entitled to a presumption of innocence.

The barrister said a cash surety of between £5-£10,000 raised “through family” could be lodged with the court.

District Judge Nigel Broderick refused bail “on the grounds of a risk of further offences and risk of flight”.

The defendant was remanded in continuing custody and the case adjourned until September.

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