A Chinese illegal immigrant appeared in court on Saturday after police found £9,000 hidden under a cauliflower in a bag.
Belfast Magistrates Court heard that 35-year-old Qi Hao Guo was waking along the Lisburn Road when police officers searched the bag he was carrying.
A detective told the court that hidden under a cauliflower, officers discovered £9,000 in cash along with a small amount of herbal cannabis and an RoI identity card and a further £1,850 in his wallet.
Guo claimed he had borrowed the money from friends and eventually admitted that he had found the ID card on a Dublin bus and had assumed that man’s identity.
When Guo was fingerprinted, his true identity became known and police enquiries revealed that he was in breach of a deportation order while follow up searches at a flat in the Titanic Quarter uncovered more cannabis, mobiles phones and scales.
Guo, of no fixed abode, appeared in court, alongside an interpreter, via videolink from police custody where he was charged with three counts of possessing criminal property, three of possessing class B cannabis, entering the UK in breach of a deportation order, possessing a false ID document and with obstructing police, all alleged to have been committed on 18 June this year.
The officer said police were objecting to bail as Guo was a flight risk given he has “strong ties” to the Republic and “has no status in the UK”.
Under cross examination from defence counsel Declan Quinn, the officer agreed that members of the Chinese community often borrow large sums of money from each other and applying for bail, he urged District Judge George Conner to “look at the case globally” as there is “absolutely no evidence” the money was linked to criminality.
Refusing to free Guo however, District Judge Conner said he felt there is a risk of flight or of Guo “simply disappearing into the community under a different name”.
Remanded into custody, Guo’s case was adjourned to 17 July.