Belfast Telegraph

Drugs accused hid phones in a kitchen extractor fan, court hears

By Staff Reporter

Mobile phones were found hidden inside an extractor fan in the flat of a Coleraine man who police claim is involved at a "high level" in the drugs trade, a court has heard.

Aidan Malachy Michael Austin (42), of Hazelbank Court, faces two charges of possessing criminal property on December 3 last year and also between that date and February 27 this year.

The accused appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court yesterday via video link from Maghaberry Prison, where he has been on remand on the charges.

A police officer objecting to bail said officers attended an alleged domestic incident at Austin's flat last December. They found three mobile phones including two hidden inside an extractor fan in a kitchen, while £5,340 was found under the defendant's mattress.

The officer said one of the phones had a Dutch SIM card and police believed Austin was "heavily involved in criminality".

In February this year the officer said police searched Austin's flat under warrant and found £1,000 sitting on a sofa beside him and £5,000 cash hidden above a kitchen cabinet. Three more phones were also found.

The officer said detectives believe the defendant is "actively involved in the supply of controlled drugs" and is "well known to police".

The officer said Austin was given a five year jail term in 2013 for conspiracy to supply drugs and police believe he is at "such a high level" that he "controls other people".

The policeman said the defendant keeps re-offending and in November last year he received a suspended sentence and a few weeks later police recovered cash in his apartment.

Defence solicitor Garrett Greene said the defendant was not charged with any drugs offences and his client had denied the charges he faces.

The police officer said Austin alleged the £1,000 on the sofa had been loaned to him.

Mr Greene said other people had access to the flat.

The officer said other people were unlikely to leave such large amounts of money in somebody else's apartment.

Mr Greene said the defendant's father was in court and willing to sign a bail surety and the lawyer said Austin's partner was in employment and could offer her address in Derry for bail.

District Judge Liam McNally refused bail, saying he took into account Austin's drug convictions. He told Austin there was a "very high risk of you continuing in further involvement in crime".

The defendant was remanded in continuing custody and the case was adjourned until April.

Belfast Telegraph

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