Belfast Telegraph

Ex-Army explosives expert on drug smuggling charges in Northern Ireland

By George Jackson

A former British soldier who served as a trained improvised explosive device spotter with the Royal Logistics Corps in Afghanistan, appeared before the Londonderry Magistrates' Court charged with drugs offences.

Daniel Martin Williams, 27, was arrested at his home at Down Street in Swansea, Wales, on Wednesday by PSNI officers investigating the activities of a gang illegally importing drugs into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

He was taken to Strand Road Police Station in Derry following his arrest and charged with possessing the Class C drugs diazepam and xanox, possessing the drugs with intent to supply them, conspiring with others to supply them and being concerned in supplying them. He is alleged to have committed the offences between September 1 of last year and last Wednesday.

A police officer told District Judge Barney McElholm that the defendant became a suspect in the ongoing police investigations when his fingerprints were found on a box containing 5,000 diazepam tablets last September. The drugs consignment was addressed to a house in the Waterside area of the city and was intercepted by the police.

She said when the defendant's home in Wales was searched last Wednesday, inside it the police found another 11,000 diazepam tablets, weighing scales, deal bags, addressed envelopes, bank documents, mobile 'phones and a computer. All of the items were seized.

"We have evidence that from last September to the date of his arrest on Wednesday that he was involved in supplying diazepam and that it is a sophisticated criminal operation and enterprise," she said.

The police witness said after his arrest the defendant declined to be legally represented and refused to give the police his pin code to access his mobile phone, however, after he was charged with the offences he agreed to be legally represented. He then gave his mobile pin code to the police who found material relevant to the supplying of illegal drugs.

She said there were screen shots relating to drugs deliveries, electronic scales and a screen shot of "a large rock like substance of white powder weighing just over thirteen grams". The police also found messages from customers referring to special deliveries.

Opposing bail being granted, the police officer said the defendant had a relevant conviction. In 2011 he was convicted of possessing cocaine following which he was dishonourably dismissed from the British army. She said if released on bail she believed the defendant would be in a position to "re-direct" drugs deliveries.

"He said during his interviews that his opinion is people have choices in life and if they choose to take drugs, he will supply them," she said.

Applying for bail defence solicitor Seamus Quigley said four other men charged in relation to the same police investigation had all been released on court bail.

He said the defendant worked as a warehouse employee and earned £1,000 per month and there was no evidence of an extravagant lifestyle in relation to drugs offences.

"His roots are in Swansea. He served in the Royal Logistics Corps in Afghanistan as a trained improvised explosive device spotter. It is a complex and complicated investigation which could take months to complete. He says that the screen shot of the rock of white substance on his mobile phone was a prank which he now regretted," Mr Quigley said.

The District Judge adjourned the bail application until June 5 and remanded the defendant in custody until that date.

"It would be my intention to grant bail for the defendant unless something we do not know now comes to light in between which would cause me to revise that,", Mr McElholm said.

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