Newtownabbey cocaine factory: defendants could flee, court hears
£600,000 worth of drugs and £300,000 in cash found in two raids
The lives of a couple charged over the discovery of a suspected cocaine factory are at risk, a court heard today.
Police claimed Patrick Auld and Una McClory could be under threat following the seizure of £600,000 worth of drugs and £300,000 in cash during raids on two houses in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim.
Three Mercedes cars, two Taser stun-guns and a cocaine press were also confiscated in an operation carried out on Wednesday and Thursday.
Auld, a 33-year-old telephonist, and his shop manager partner McClory, 31, were arrested and jointly charged with converting and concealing criminal property, along with having Class A, B and C drugs with intent to supply.
Auld faces further counts of being concerned in the production of cocaine and amphetamines, and possession of a prohibited weapon.
As the pair, both with an address at Dalewood in Newtownabbey, appeared together in the dock at Belfast Magistrates' Court a policeman revealed what was found during the operation.
He said the first house searched at Ballyhenry Avenue contained no furniture, just large quantities of cocaine, Ecstasy, amphetamines, cannabis and diazepam.
Nearly all of the seized cash was located at that address.
The court heard Auld arrived with a key to the property as police were carrying out their raid.
Another £13,500 in cash was then recovered from the couple's family home in nearby Dalewood.
Auld was said to have claimed the drugs belonged to other "senior personalities" and that he only became involved under duress.
Opposing bail, the officer detailed an alleged previous threat to kill the accused over owing £12,000.
"Following the police seizures that debt could be increased to hundreds of thousands of pounds," he said.
Auld was said to have made admissions during interviews, while McClory denies knowing anything about the drugs.
But the court was told that a lease for the Ballyhenry Avenue address was in her name.
According to the officer both defendants could flee if bailed because they may feel under threat.
"I believe there's a significant risk to these people if they are released," he added.
Defence solicitor Mark O'Connor said Auld provided a full account to police.
"He accepted that he had been in possession of and was involved in producing large amounts of these drugs, albeit he would say this was under duress from other persons," the lawyer told the court.
Seeking McClory's release, he stressed that she has a four-month-old child with her co-accused.
Granting bail for her to live at her mother's home, the judge identified distinctions in the case against the pair.
McClory was comforted by her partner in the dock as she sobbed at learning her application had been successful.
Auld, however, was remanded in custody due to the police concerns.
Both accused are due back in court on February 20.
Belfast Telegraph Digital