Motorist stopped on Co Down motorway with at least £100k of cocaine to remain in custody
A motorist stopped on a Co Down motorway with at least £100,000 worth of cocaine hidden in his van must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled today.
Liam McAnoy was refused bail despite insisting he knew nothing about the drugs discovered in a secret compartment.
The 34-year-old, of Prospect Park in Belfast, claims he was pressured into travelling to the Irish Republic to pay off a £1,500 debt from his own habit.
McAnoy is charged with possessing cocaine with intent to supply following the seizure made on October 9.
Prosecutor Philip Henry said the accused was shivering, uneasy and sweating profusely when police stopped him in the Ford Transit van on the A1 near Hillsborough.
Searches of the vehicle led to the recovery of two kilos of cocaine in packages with an estimated street value of £100,000, the court heard.
McAnoy told police he was unaware of the consignment, claiming at first he crossed the border to get car parts.
Later, according to Mr Henry, he changed his account to say he had gone to the Republic to pay a drug debt.
It was contended, however, that he must have known about the cocaine because of the complexity and sophistication of the secret compartment.
Opposing bail, Mr Henry alleged: "From the circumstances presented the defendant is part of an organisation in relation to this drugs distribution."
Defence counsel insisted McAnoy only made the trip to pay off money owed.
"The case he has put forward is that he was pressed into this," the barrister added.
"He was making a delivery of cash... he was completely unaware that drugs had been stored in the vehicle itself."
Refusing bail, Mr Justice Horner held there was a risk McAnoy could become involved with any drugs gang once more.
He said: "The difficulty for somebody with a drug habit is not only taking drugs again but being put under pressure to pay off the debt."