Six in court after police covert operation into alleged Coleraine cocaine dealing
Six people have been charged following a police undercover operation targeting the sale of cocaine in the Coleraine area.
The four men and two women are all from Coleraine and appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Saturday.
They face charges including supplying cocaine, possession of the class A drug with intent to supply, and having cocaine on various dates.
Ellen Culbertson (26), of Carthall Road, and Jonathan Paul Drake (30), of Pates Lane, each face 22 charges.
Corey Kennedy (21), of Hazelbank Road, faces 18 charges.
Jonathan Neill (23), of Westbourne Crescent, is accused of nine offences. Alan Francis Cahoon (59), of Cypress Drive, and Catherine Michelle Henderson (46), of Society Street, each face six charges.
A lawyer for Drake, Kennedy and Neill said no application was being made for bail and they were remanded in custody.
Bail applications were successfully made for Culbertson, Cahoon and Henderson.
There was a large police presence in the court grounds including three police vans and five police cars.
Several family members and friends of the accused were in the public gallery.
A detective sergeant said she believed she could connect all the accused to the charges, and that she was seeking all the defendants to be remanded in custody.
The officer told the court the arrests were the result of an "ongoing, proactive covert operation" in the Coleraine area. She said police observed Culbertson allegedly being concerned in the supply of cocaine in the Forge Bar.
She also alleged that the defendant was involved in similar offences on the forecourt of an Applegreen garage in Coleraine, at Carthall Road in the town, and at Kelly's nightclub in Portrush. During a search of her property £200 worth of herbal cannabis was seized, the detective told the court.
The officer said she believed Culbertson was a "trusted associate" with some of the other accused, and that offences had allegedly been committed during the "course of her employment in the Forge Bar". A defence lawyer said Culbertson, who has one previous caution, was a single parent with a five-year-old child.
The police officer said the defendant had given a "no comment" interview.
In relation to Henderson, the officer alleged she was also observed supplying cocaine in the Forge Bar and that during a search of her home a bag of cocaine was found under a mattress.
A defence solicitor said Henderson had never been in a police station before and that she had found drugs in a stairwell and kept them under the mattress so her daughter would not find them.
She told the court it was her client's intention to dispose of the drugs, but that she had forgotten about them. The lawyer said Henderson's 16-year-old daughter was doing GCSEs and the defendant was "just devastated" at being in court.
The detective sergeant said Cahoon was also allegedly spotted supplying cocaine at the Forge Bar.
A defence lawyer argued Cahoon was the "least culpable" of all the defendants.
The officer said that during interview the defendant denied supplying drugs and denied having any knowledge of some of the co-accused.
District Judge Liam McNally said: "This was obviously a major operation in the Coleraine area where the police have been monitoring the situation."
He said they were "serious" charges and it was alleged that the defendants had been "heavily involved over a substantial period of time".
The judge said he would release Culbertson, Henderson and Cahoon on their own bail of £500 with sureties of £750 and with conditions attached, including a curfew and reporting to police twice a week.
All the cases were adjourned until June 25.