Belfast Telegraph

Laptop seizure led to police recovering £350k cannabis haul, court hears

By Alan Erwin

The seizure of a laptop allegedly led to police recovering nearly £350,000 worth of cannabis, the High Court heard on Thursday.

Prosecutors claimed an examination of the computer revealed conversations about supplying drugs to addresses in the greater Ballymena area.

Details emerged during a bail application by a father-of-five accused of being a leading figure in a gang sending the consignments.

Charles George McFall, 45, of Ballymoney Road in Ballymena, is charged with possessing and conspiracy to supply cannabis.

He also faces two counts of concealing criminal property, namely cash.

McFall was arrested in June as part of a police inquiry which commenced last year.

Crown lawyer Mark Farrell claimed a laptop seized in July 2017 contained "descriptive comments, conversation and traffic" between McFall and a Chinese national co-accused.

Exchanged messages led to another suspect being contacted about delivering drugs parcels to a number of addresses, he alleged.

Police then seized quantities of drugs and money during raids on properties in Ballymena and other locations.

The court was told nearly £350,000 worth of the drugs and just over £77,000 in cash was recovered in total.

Mr Farrell said police believe McFall and the Chinese national headed-up the operation, while three other accused allegedly acted as "runners" moving the drugs in the community.

Defence counsel Bem Thompson disputed the prosecution assertions about his client's alleged role.

"In an operation of this scale one would expect a slightly bigger figure than George McFall of Ballymena," he said.

Mr Thompson set out how the accused was seeking release to be with his children.

"He would like to get out to spend Christmas with his family," counsel added.

It was disclosed during the hearing that a £5,000 surety was being offered to secure bail.

Adjourning the application, Mr Justice Horner said it was to give police time to make inquiries and confirm their position about the cash guarantee.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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