Judge imposes anonymity because of potential paramilitary threat

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Members of the media present at a special sitting of Derry’s Magistrates Court yesterday were ordered not to report the name and address of a man appearing on drugs charges because of the potential risk to his life.

The comments were made during the appearance of a man on charges of possession and possession with intent to supply drugs following the seizure of almost £11,000 worth of cannabis resin during a police operation in the city on Friday.

Defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott asked District Judge Mervyn Bates to impose the order and said his client, if named publicly, could be at risk of a paramilitary attack. Judge Bates granted the defendant anonymity telling the court: “I understand it is accepted practice in this division.”

An investigating officer told the court the 29 year old local man had been arrested following a search of his home, the drugs worth £10,965 had been recovered, as well as £545. Police also recovered a mobile phone during the search.

Mr. MacDermott said his client had been holding onto the drugs for a friend but “had nothing to do with any deal”.

However a PSNI officer present in court said initial investigations on the phone recovered “would indicate that the defendant had been involved in the deal himself.”

Applying for bail, Mr. MacDermott said his client had no previous convictions and no criminal record and had been “keeping bad company” and that his arrest on Friday had been a “sharp shock to him.”

Mr. Bates denied the application for bail. Addressing the defendant directly he said: “On the positive side you have no record but on the negative side the quantity seized is on the high side. It’s one thing to possess but the large quantities suggest an intent to supply and given those factors I believe the likelihood of re-offending to recoup losses is high.

“This is a very serious drug dealing situation,” he added.

The 29-year-old was remanded in custody to appear again via videolink on February 7.