Belfast Telegraph

No bail for Tyrone cannabis farm accused Rory Hughes

By Staff Reporter

The discovery of a rural cannabis farm in Co Tyrone is a "major blow" to a defendant's income, a court has been told.

Rory Francis Hughes (39), of Ballyvaddy Road, Dungannon, is accused of seven charges related to a "large, sophisticated" cannabis operation, as well as possession of around £110,000 worth of cocaine and a large amount of cutting agent.

He is also charged with possessing both cannabis and cocaine with intent to supply, as well as cultivating cannabis plants and dishonestly using electricity.

Finally, it is alleged Hughes possessed the cutting agent, moulds and a press capable of assisting in the commission of an offence, namely supplying drugs.

A detective constable told Dungannon Magistrates Court she believed she could connect the accused to all charges.

Objecting to bail, she said that police called at a large rural property to conduct a search on Tuesday morning.

This is an engineering business near to the house where Hughes lives with his family. On arrival, she said officers immediately noted an overwhelming smell of cannabis.

She said they were met by the defendant's children who said their father was not present, but contacted him by phone. He returned a later and was arrested.

Meanwhile, a search got under way.

The detective said that the engineering premises were divided by a false wall and the drugs enterprise appeared to be operating in the unseen side of the building.

A large amount of cannabis plants had been "harvested" and were drying on trays, she added.

She told the court a holdall was found containing 16 vacuum-packed plastic bags of a cutting agent. In another shed, a black plastic bag contained a powder which was found to be cocaine. More bags of cutting agent were also recovered.

The detective added that an underground electricity supply was being used.

She said that in total 400 cannabis plants were recovered, with a value of around £200,000. Some 2.2kgs of cocaine were found along with a quantity of cutting agent valued at around £15,000.

The detective told the court that when cocaine was combined with the cutting agent, the value of the drugs would increase significantly. Hughes was interviewed and gave "no comment" replies.

Bail was opposed on the basis of a risk of further offending and potential to flee the jurisdiction.

Describing it as "a very sophisticated operation" the detective said: "We believe this is related to organised crime of which the defendant features as one participants. The discovery is a major blow to his income and he may seek to reoffend to recoup loss."

Defence counsel asked for bail to permit Hughes to return to the family home, as police searches are almost concluded.

But District Judge John Meehan threw out the application, saying: "The sheer magnitude and sophistication of the alleged operation make this a very strong prosecution case. Bail must be refused."

Hughes was remanded in custody to appear by video-link next month.

Belfast Telegraph

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