A man arrested at Belfast International Airport as part of an investigation into the seizure of £150,000 worth of heroin had booked a one-way flight to Paris, a court has heard.
Omar Ahamad (41) was detained on Monday after police intercepted packages posted to two properties in the Belfast area.
The hotel worker, of Beechmount Gardens in the city, is charged with offences which include fraudulently importing, possessing and attempting to possess Class A drugs.
Belfast Magistrates Court heard two parcels sent to Ahamad’s home and another address linked to him were seized on July 14.
The packages, which had eastern European names on them, contained approximately one kilo of heroin.
Further quantities of suspected heroin and cannabis were recovered during follow-up searches at the two properties.
Police disclosed that Ahamad was arrested at the airport as he was about to travel to France.
“He was on a flight to Paris on a one-way ticket,” an investigating detective said.
“He had no return flight, no accommodation booked, and he had a small rucksack with him.”
The court heard Ahamad had only booked the trip the previous day, when he also allegedly sent his ex-partner a text message stating: “I’m not coming back.”
During interviews he denied the offences or knowing the individuals named on the packages.
But inquiries revealed they were among his friends on Facebook and that he had lived with one of them for a period, according to the detective.
Despite the accused’s clear record, bail was opposed due to the risk of any further offending to recoup losses from the drugs seizure.
The detective added: “On another note, there have been 60 drug deaths this year in Northern Ireland, a large amount of these have involved heroin.
“The public have a high expectation of police to take robust action against people involved in this form of criminality.”
Defence counsel Aaron Thompson said his client informed police he made the “impromptu” flight booking to visit a friend in Paris, and provided full access to his phone and bank account.
The barrister argued that Ahamad has lived in Northern Ireland since 2014, currently works in a Belfast hotel and has no lavish lifestyle.
“It seems the height of the allegation is that he has been used as a postal address to perhaps get things delivered here and pass on to somebody else,” Mr Thompson submitted.
“He has denied that and is entitled to the presumption of innocence.”
Ahamad was granted bail to live under curfew at an address to be approved by police.
District Judge Alana McSorley ordered him to provide a £2,000 cash surety and imposed a ban on any electronic communications.
The case was adjourned for a further update on August 17.