Belfast Telegraph

Total gambling ban for £250k cocaine smuggling accused

By Alan Erwin

A gambling addict taxi driver charged over a £250,000 cocaine seizure is banned from entering any bookmakers, a High Court judge ordered.

The betting prohibition was imposed on Mark Nixon as part of tight conditions under which he and co-accused Dale McCormick were both granted bail.

Nixon, 43, and McCormick, 22, are among three men allegedly involved in a foiled bid to transport a consignment of drugs from Co Antrim to Derry last week.

Police discovered four kilos of suspected cocaine when they stopped a taxi near Nutts Corner on November 30.

Nixon, of Westway in Londonderry, was behind the wheel while McCormick, from Springvale Park in the city, was also in the car, the court heard.

A third man not in the vehicle was allegedly directing the pair, according to the police case.

Nixon and McCormick both face charges of possession and conspiracy to supply cocaine.

With both men said to have made certain admissions, the court heard they agreed to make the trip for financial reasons.

McCormick was described as having a drugs problem and owed his dealer £2,000.

Nixon, meanwhile, had been offered £400 to transport packages.

He has "frittered away" money through gambling for most of his life, defence counsel said.

The lawyer argued that both men accept they face jail, but were seeking release to "put their houses in order".

McCormick wants to undergo a course of rehabilitation, while Nixon has family issues to deal with.

Granting bail, Sir Richard McLaughlin acknowledged the unusual circumstances were both men made admissions when confronted by police.

But he warned them: "It's going to be as tough a regime as I can make it."

He ordered both accused to report daily to police and abide by a night-time curfew.

Imposing further conditions on Nixon, the judge said: "He's not to gamble online, not to enter a bookmakers shop and he's not to arrange for someone to place a bet."

On being informed most of the accused's wagers go on horse racing and football matches, Sir Richard warned: "He knows what's coming if he decides that he want to gamble on who's scoring the next goal."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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