Belfast Telegraph

Restaurant boss refused bail over £560k cannabis seizure charges in Belfast

By Alan Erwin

A Chinese restaurant boss was remanded into custody today on charges linked to a £560,000 cannabis seizure in Belfast.

Jian Qing Guan was refused bail amid police fears he may flee if released.

The 36-year-old was arrested on Monday by detectives investigating the drugs consignment recovered from an apartment in the city's Donegall Quay area on October 8.

He is accused of nine offences, including possessing cannabis with intent to supply, conspiracy to supply, two counts of importing a controlled drug, concealing and converting criminal property.

Guan, of Jerusalem Street in Belfast, is the fourth person to be charged in connection with the police operation.

A detective told the city's Magistrates Court the raid followed the earlier interception of two parcels sent in the post to addresses in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, and Portadown in Co Armagh.

He claimed Guan was seen entering the Obel Tower apartment complex at least 22 times during the first week in October.

It was claimed that the defendant was monitored carrying the same type of hold-all as the cannabis was later found in.

Searches of his own led to the recovery of a number of tenancy agreements for properties in Co Down and Co Antrim, the court heard.

The detective told District Judge Fiona Bagnall: "We believe Mr Guan was involved in renting these properties to facilitate the importation of drugs."

Expressing concerns that the accused may flee if bailed, he said Guan had been staying across the border in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan before his arrest.

Defence barrister Paul Bacon argued that his client was simply trying to expand his Chinese restaurant business interests outside the jurisdiction.

Mr Bacon claimed the case against Guan was weak and circumstantial.

He said a £5,000 cash surety could be lodged to ease any concerns about the accused remaining in Northern Ireland.

But refusing bail, Judge Bagnall said: "I share the concerns of the prosecution with regard to the likelihood of him not turning up for trial and taking himself outside the jurisdiction.

"I'm not prepared to take that risk."

Guan was remanded in custody to appear again by video-link next month.

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