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Five in court on drugs charges following undercover police operation in Newtownards

By Paul Higgins

Published 15/10/2015

Police are investigating drug dealing.
Police are investigating drug dealing.

Five Newtownards men were in court today accused of supplying cocaine in various bars in the town following a five month undercover police operation.

Standing side by side in the dock of their town's magistrates' Court, all five spoke only to confirm that they understood their respective charges.

In the dock were David Milligan (35) and 25-year-old Philip Reid, both from Shackleton Walk, John Clements, a 31-year-old joiner from Priory Avenue, Scott McClure, 27, from Hampden Grove and 31-year-old Jonathon Tate from Market Street.

Clements and Tate face three counts of being concerned in supplying cocaine on specific dates in March, April and May this year, McClure faces two charges of supplying the class A drug in January and February and sales assistant Reid faces a single count of supplying cocaine in January.

Milligan is accused of supplying cocaine on various dates between 23 January and 29 May as well as further allegations that he possessed class B cannabis and two prohibited Tasers on October 14 this year.

Giving evidence to the court, a detective described how police launched their operation last January, focusing on the sale and supply of class A cocaine in various public houses in the town and which involved "the deployment of a number of undercover officers who made several purchases from the males in the dock."

In the first alleged purchase on January 23, the detective claimed Reid "facilitated the supply [of cocaine] from Mr McClure to an officer," adding that McClure went on to supply a second deal of an officer "a couple of weeks later".

"Mr Reid had arranged that he would contact the officers again to supply deals if they required it but there was no further contact," claimed the cop.

She alleged that after contact with McClure, under cover officers were put in touch with Tate who allegedly sold them three deals worth around £190 in March and then Clements allegedly sold them a similar amount in May.

Milligan, claimed the officer, had been mentioned by two of his co-accused as being involved and when UC officers enquires about buying larger amounts of drugs, they said "it would have to be cleared by Mr Milligan".

During a search of his home yesterday officers discovered two Taser weapons and a quantity of herbal cannabis secreted in his bin.

All five were questioned by police and the detective said while Reid and Tate admitted supplying drugs, McClure refused to answer police questions while Milligan denied the drug offences but accepted the Tasers were his.

She told the court police were content the five were all released in bail but that cops wanted various bail conditions put in place including them being barred from pubs in Ards as "we believe that is where the accused were meeting and where the dealers were made."

Releasing all five on their own bail of £500, District Judge Mark Hamill also imposed curfews from 10pm to 7am and barred them from all licensed premises in Ards.

The alleged drug dealers are due back before the court on November 12.

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