Hertfordshire man allegedly linked to £1m cannabis seizure through fingerprint evidence, court hears
A Hertfordshire man is allegedly linked to £1 million seizure of herbal cannabis in Belfast through fingerprint evidence, a court heard on Friday.
Philip Ketley, 35, was arrested at his home on Wednesday by detectives investigating the drugs recovered in the north of the city earlier this year.
The NHS flooring contractor, of Honey Lane in Hertford, was remanded into custody amid claims that he is part of an organised crime gang involved in the plot to bring the consignment into Northern Ireland.
Police seized 50 kilos of cannabis after two vehicles were stopped and searched at Dargan Road on January 26.
The drugs were said to have been hidden inside flower boxes before being transported by lorry across the Irish Sea.
Two other men from Co Louth and Co Armagh have already been charged in connection with the seizure.
Ketley appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court charged with supplying Class B drugs and being concerned in their supply.
Opposing his application for bail, a detective constable alleged he is linked to a gang that has suffered a £1m financial hit and may re-offending in a bid to recoup those losses.
She also disclosed that a quantity of cannabis was found in Ketley's home when officers arrived to arrest him.
"He has a £6,000 a year drug habit and we believe he's heavily involved in criminal activity," the detective added.
Defence counsel Michael Boyd rejected the "alarming" depiction of the accused by police.
Mr Boyd argued that the only evidence against Ketley are fingerprints found on two long white boxes.
Explaining their presence, the barrister accepted his client has a cannabis dependency.
"When he was buying a small amount of drugs from his supplier... the individual was showing off about the amount of drugs he had in the flat," Mr Boyd said.
"In order to move across the room he (Ketley) remembers long white boxes that he touched."
District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told the accused was "incredulous" when the police allegations of being linked to a crime gang were put to him.
"This is a man living fairly quietly in England, and to put it mildly he's astounded at the suggestion," Mr Boyd added.
But despite the offer of a £10,000 cash surety, Judge Bagnall refused bail due to the risk of re-offending.
She remanded Ketley in custody to appear again by video-link on December 30.