Northern Ireland car dealer bailed in £1.3m drug seizure case
A car dealer charged in connection with potentially the biggest ever herbal cannabis seizure in Northern Ireland has been granted High Court bail.
Niall Mallon is accused of importing more than £1.3m worth of the drugs found inside a fuel container on a trailer at his home on Ballynaris Lane, Dromore, Co Down.
A judge ruled the 38-year-old can be released from custody on condition that he surrenders any passports in his possession.
Defence lawyers claim he was an "innocent dupe" paid £700 to unwittingly transport the illegal consignment across the border.
He knew nothing about the concealed drugs and instead believed that he was picking up plant machinery from a shipping agency in Dublin, they contend.
Mallon, and his 32-year-old co-accused Kevin McPolin, of Edenderry Park in Banbridge, are also charged with possessing the herbal cannabis with intent to supply.
They allegedly travelled together in a van which towed the trailer with a concealed 66 kilos of the Class B drugs.
Prosecution counsel confirmed the illicit haul is valued in excess of £1.3m, describing it as possibly the largest seizure of herbal cannabis ever made in Northern Ireland.
Police believe an organised crime gang was involved in transporting the drugs
During Mallon's bail application his legal team argued that he made two trips down to Dublin to pick up the consignment without knowing its true contents.
Defence counsel Joe Brolly insisted his client was told to pick up plant machinery.
The barrister described his client as someone who "wheels and deals", buys and sells cars, and agreed to the collection for a fee of £700.
According to Mr Brolly the original plan had been to transport the trailer to an industrial estate in Lurgan, but when that site was closed it was instead taken to Mallon's home.
Granting bail today, Mr Justice Maguire also banned him from leaving Northern Ireland without notifying police. ends
Belfast Telegraph Digital