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Cabbie in drug bust a patsy, court told

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Police searching the Value Cab taxi

Police searching the Value Cab taxi

The trio appeared at Laganside courts

The trio appeared at Laganside courts

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Police searching the Value Cab taxi

A TAXI driver allegedly caught with £60,000 of cocaine in his car is a “patsy” who is in £50,000 of debt, a court has heard.

William Millar appeared at Belfast Magistrates Court on Saturday along with co-accused Thomas Cusack and Michael Armstrong.

The trio were arrested following a police sting on an alleged drugs handover in west Belfast on Thursday afternoon.

Millar (51) is charged with possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply, being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs, possession of a Class C drug, namely diazepam, and possession of criminal property.

Armstrong (63) faces a single charge of being concerned in the supply of a Class A controlled drug.

His son-in-law Cusack (32) is charged with being concerned in the supply of a Class A controlled drug, possession of a Class B controlled drug, namely cannabis, possession of a Class A controlled drug with intent to supply and unlawfully supply a Class A drug.

An officer from the PSNI’s organised crime branch told the court that on Thursday afternoon officers observed a meeting taking place at the Twin Spires centre off the Falls Road.

The passenger of a white Honda Insight, Cusack, was seen going into the centre while Armstrong, the driver, went to speak to Millar, who was driving a Value Cab taxi.

Cusack then appeared carrying a white bucket with a brown, wrapped packet on top that he put it in the rear of the taxi.

Police followed the taxi and stopped it on Northumberland Street, while the Honda was stopped on Lanark Way.

The brown, wrapped parcel was found to contain a white powder which police say is cocaine with a street value of around £60,000.

A list of names, four mobile phones and £800 in cash was also recovered from the vehicle.

Interviewed by the police, Millar didn’t deny knowing the packet was in his car but refused to comment on it, though he admitted having diazepam which he said was for his dog.

He told officers the cash came from a recent 50th birthday present to his wife, which she gave him to help pay off debts and a car loan.

Applying for bail, his solicitor said his client had worked as a taxi driver for 20 years and was a classically trained chef but had debts of around £50,000.

The lawyer said Millar was being used as a “patsy” to ferry the drugs and that he had a “very, very limited role” in the matter.

He added that Millar had also provided an explanation for the phones found in the car.

Asking for Armstrong to be granted bail, he said his client had no knowledge of the drugs found and he had only spoken to Millar because he thought he had nearly reversed into his taxi.

A police officer pointed out it would be a “serious coincidence” that he managed to nearly hit the same car into which his son-in-law is accused of placing £60,000 worth of cocaine.

Armstrong’s solicitor said his client also suffered from significant health issues, and given the investigation is at an early stage, it was likely to be next year before the matter goes to trial.

District Judge Amanda Henderson refused bail for both Millar, of Eccles Street in west Belfast, and Armstrong, of Kingscourt Avenue in the east of the city.

They were both remanded in custody until June 23.

Cusack, of Springfield Heights in west Belfast, was remanded in custody until a bail application is made on May 31.


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