Belfast Telegraph

Simple drugs case took four years to complete

By Adrian Rutherford

A simple drugs case took more than four years to conclude, the report found.

A suspect was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to supply and possession of criminal property.

They pleaded guilty at the arraignment stage, yet it took 1,582 days for the case to be dealt with.

Auditors found a series of basic failings along the way.

These included:

  • Failing to serve papers on the defendant caused significant delays in getting the case to court;
  • The police investigation was marred by "indefensible" poor management and supervision;
  • There were unexplained delays occurred during decision making by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

A breakdown of the case sets out how proceedings began when police conducted a search of a house.

A suspect was arrested, interviewed and charged.

After 121 days police submitted evidence to Forensic Science.

Around three months later, on day 220, the results were sent back to police.

After 457 days - a year and three months - police submitted final file to the PPS.

Some 1,303 days - three-and-a-half years - after their arrest, the defendant made their first appearance in court.

On the 1,513rd day, the defendant was arraigned and pleaded guilty.

They were finally sentenced 1,582 days after their arrest.

Belfast Telegraph

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