A CO Antrim couple accused of smuggling £15,000 of heroin across the border have been ordered to stand trial.
Appearing at Newry Magistrates Court by video-link on Wednesday, 40-year-old John Joseph Goodman, from Maghaberry, and Kristina Ponisi (27), whose address was given as the women’s prison at Hydebank, were charged with three offences arising from the seizure on June 6 last year.
The pair are jointly charged with importing heroin, possessing the class A drug with intent to supply and simple possession of heroin.
The charges arose as a result of an Audi car being stopped and searched on the A1 carriageway just outside Newry.
With the help of a sniffer dog, cops uncovered heroin said to be worth £15,000.
Giving evidence to the court when Ponisi unsuccessfully asked for bail, a policeman said the defendant “plays an active and integral role in this enterprise — without her it simply couldn’t happen”.
He said the police’s case was that the couple had driven across the border and purchased heroin which they would then bring back to Belfast “for onward sale”.
He claimed the police had information that “Miss Ponisi’s car travelled a similar route on May 30” and that she hired a car for a similar run on May 18.
The policeman said officers feared that if released Ponisi would commit offences because “whether it’s her money or money she owes… she has suffered serious financial loss” as a result of the seizure.
Under cross-examination, the officer agreed that Ponisi had no criminal convictions and that during police interviews she had denied knowing anything about the heroin, claiming she and Goodman had “gone for a drive” to a filling station.
The policeman further agreed that Goodman “made admissions that he was the possessor and had knowledge of the heroin”.
Returning the case to Newry Crown Court for trial and scheduling the arraignment to be heard on September 13, District Judge Eamon King said that while the defendants were apart, “the court has the impression that would not be the case if they were at liberty”.