Three in court after £20,000 drugs seizure

Derry Courthouse.
Derry Courthouse.

Three members of a Derry family have appeared in court charged in connection with the seizure of cocaine and other drugs with a street value of almost £20,000.

John Kerr (54), his wife Donna Kerr (45), and their son Jake Kerr, all of Woodland Mews, Eglinton, faced a series of drug charges including being concerned in the supply of cocaine, MDMA and cannabis.

They were also charged with possessing drugs with intent to supply and obstructing police. All of the charges were said to have occurred on September 20.

A police officer connected the three to the charges and opposed bail.

She told the court that the case against them was circumstantial but added that it was ‘strong circumstances’. The court heard police attended an address in Eglinton and when Donna Kerr saw them she locked the front door.

The officer said one officer shone a torch in the window and saw John Kerr emptying a bag of white powder down the drain. Police forced their way into the house and found cannabis on the kitchen table, the court heard.

A search of neighbouring gardens found almost 700 MDMA tablets, 28 grammes of cocaine, cannabis and plastic tubs containing various drugs. The officer said the street value of the drugs was around £20,000.

A number of ‘deal bags’ were found in the house as well as a heat sealer, the court was told, and some of the bags had been sealed with a heat sealer. Jake Kerr was found to have almost £2,000 in his possession which he said he had been given by his grandfather, the court heard.

Police seized a number of mobile phones which none of the accused admitted to owning. None of the family gave an account as to how the stuff found in the gardens was similar to material in the house.

Donna Kerr said she thought they were being attacked and did not realise it was the police. John Kerr said he had been washing the dishes and denied throwing anything down the drain.

Bail was opposed due to the risk of reoffending and the officer said John Kerr had 15 previous convictions, four for drugs. She said in 2008 he had been convicted of possessing cannabis with intent to supply after being seen removing a coffee jar from a hide. When police challenged him a fifteen minute pursuit took place.

The officer told the court that since that arrest Kerr was believed ‘to have become more meticulous and professional’. The officer said Jake Kerr had £100,000 in the bank but it was accepted this was due to an inheritance.

The officer opposed bail also as there was a risk of interference with justice.

Defence solicitor Seamus Quigley said the £100,000 was ‘neither here nor there’ as regards the drug charges but District Judge Barney McElholm said it could be helpful in letting someone flee. Mr Quigley said Jake Kerr was in the dock because he happened to be at home that night. He said it was a circumstantial case and the prosecution had to prove that ‘each and everyone of them was involved’.

He said: “It seems someone was up to something and that DNA and fingerprint evidence may be important.”

The three were released on bail with a £10,000 surety each which will be paid from the £100,000 after that the remaining balance will be frozen. They are to reside at an address in Ardmore, wear a tag and not enter Eglinton.

All three will appear again on September 26.