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Drugs probe ex-Tyrone GAA star fails in fresh bid for bail

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A former Tyrone GAA star  charged as part of a major investigation into an encrypted phone network has again been refused bail after a court heard he is believed to be "a leader in a criminal group, with a significant role"

A former Tyrone GAA star charged as part of a major investigation into an encrypted phone network has again been refused bail after a court heard he is believed to be "a leader in a criminal group, with a significant role"

A former Tyrone GAA star charged as part of a major investigation into an encrypted phone network has again been refused bail after a court heard he is believed to be "a leader in a criminal group, with a significant role"

A former Tyrone GAA star charged as part of a major investigation into an encrypted phone network has again been refused bail after a court heard he is believed to be "a leader in a criminal group, with a significant role".

Peter Loughran is accused of being concerned with the supply of, and conspiring to possess, cocaine and herbal cannabis, as well as fraudulently importing cocaine.

It is also alleged that Loughran (45), of Tamnamore Road, Dungannon, conspired to transfer and convert cash and entered into an arrangement on the use or control of criminal property.

The alleged offending relates to dates between March 25 and June 15 this year.

Loughran was part of the 2003 Tyrone All-Ireland winning squad. He was arrested during a National Crime Agency swoop, triggered after an encrypted communication network known as EncroChat was breached.

He was refused bail in June and mounted a further application yesterday at Dungannon Magistrates Court on the basis others charged have all been released, although this was disputed by District Judge Peter King.

Defence counsel said: "My client was one of the first to be charged, and refused bail at first appearance and at High Court. Other defendants without records have been granted bail.

"There have even been defendants with records for heavy duty offences, including money laundering, who have been bailed. My client has minor motoring matters."

The defence added a £30,000 surety was now available, although "there was a lot of debate" among police and prosecution as to the legitimacy of these funds. Bank statements were provided to the court, indicating the funds are in the accounts of "ordinary, respectable, normal people".

"There is a substantial cash surety and his situation is identical to those already granted bail," they argued. "Given the massive delay expected, my client could be bailed with strict conditions."

Opposing this, prosecution counsel stated: "The disinclination with this defendant is flight risk. There is evidence he has a particular connection with Dubai, indicating discussions around accounts there and money being moved between him and one of his subordinates. That risk wasn't present to the same degree with the others."

The prosecution disputed the defence contention of "massive delay", and while phone analysis often slows proceedings, police already have the encrypted data and other devices are being fast-tracked through the cyber unit.

They added: "There is evidence of this defendant's role indicating he is a leader of a particular group, delivering drugs, collecting the money, and paying others to do drug runs for him. He has a significant role."

Judge King noted: "This is not the first application from this investigation I have heard. I'm more than aware of the evidential issues and genesis of the police and NCA investigation. While I am aware some defendants have been bailed, it's not the case of every single one."

Belfast Telegraph