Belfast Telegraph

'Key member of gang' refused bail by judge

By George Jackson

One of the two men who appeared in court last month along with a woman, on charges relating to drugs and money laundering offences running into hundreds of thousands of pounds, is now under a death threat from a dissident republican organisation, Londonderry Magistrates Court has heard.

A detective constable told Deputy District Judge Ted Magill yesterday that 400 police officers were involved in a 10-month investigation into the activities of an organised criminal gang.

He said the police were determined to "dismantle the gang" whose alleged members were arrested following cash and drugs seizures - one of which involved a single cash seizure of £410,000 which was found when officers stopped a lorry in the Waterside area of the city.

The detective constable was speaking as he objected to bail being granted for one of the alleged gang members, Mark Kelly, a 41-year-old father of five who has been granted anonymity in relation to his home address only.

The police witness said the evidence against the defendant was surveillance and mobile phone evidence.

He described the defendant as a key member of the organised criminal gang and he said a huge financial investigation was continuing into the activities of all of the gang members.

"As part of that investigation we discovered that between 2014 and 2017 just over £300,000 passed through the defendant's bank account but he had only declared £20,000 to HMRC for the same period," he told the court.

The officer said he believed that, if released on bail, the defendant would re-offend and would try to reconstruct the criminal gang and its activities.

"I believe his release on bail would also frustrate our continuing investigations into the gang's criminal activities," he continued.

The detective constable said there had been a total of five separate cash and drugs seizures, one of which involved the seizure by the police of cocaine valued in excess of £500,000.

"This gang has taken years to build up its customer base. The defendant, because of his activities, has substantial financial clout. He has access to a number of properties abroad and we believe he would present a flight risk if released on bail."

The Deputy District Judge said the £300,000 passing through the defendant's bank account over a period when he declared £20,000 to HMRC was "a telling statistic".

He refused bail and the defendant was remanded in continuing custody for a video link court appearance on August 10.

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