Man in court accused of trying to smuggle more than £800k of cannabis into NI in pallets of orange juice refused bail
A Birmingham man accused of trying to smuggle more than £800,000 worth of cannabis into Northern Ireland in pallets of orange juice must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled today.
Stephen Dainty was refused bail amid claims he has links to criminals based in mainland Europe.
The 53-year-old is one of four men charged with conspiracy to import the Class B drugs from Spain.
They were detained after the cannabis was discovered in a van in Camlough, south Armagh on April 23.
The raid on premises in the area formed part of a joint operation involving the the PSNI, National Crime Agency and Garda.
Prosecution counsel Stephanie Boyd said 167 kilos of the drugs, with a street value of £835,000, was found among three pallets of orange juice cartons.
The consignment was said to have been tracked through Spain, England and the Republic of Ireland before officers swooped.
Dainty's home at Pool Farm Road, Acocks Green in Birmingham was searched the same day. Officers seized documents allegedly linked to the Spanish shipment.
Mrs Boyd revealed that the NCA's international branch is due to meet authorities in Spain later this month in a bid to gather further evidence about how the drugs were moved.
"Intelligence would suggest this applicant would have connections with criminal elements within Spain," she claimed.
Opposing bail, she also revealed that prior to his arrest police spoke to Dainty about apparent threats to take his own life.
"He was in the Birmingham area at a bridge and threatening to commit suicide," the barrister said.
"Police spoke to him and he indicated that he felt he was under duress from certain persons."
Defence counsel argued that Dainty has no criminal record.
Denying any links to crime in Spain, the lawyer stressed his client's only connection to the country was through having lived there for a period.
But refusing bail, Mr Justice Maguire said: "This is not a case of anything other than organised crime.
"That being so, the court requires very little convincing that there's a substantial risk of further offending if bail were to be granted."