By Paul Higgins
A man police believe “operates at a high level” in an organised crime gang appeared in court today (sat) accused of dealing in cannabis and cocaine.
Despite police objections that he had access to cash and contacts to help him flee, 28-year-old Sean Kiernan was freed on bail after Lisburn Magistrates Court heard that his mother is prepared to put her house “on the line” as a surety for her son.
Kiernan, from the Fairy Hill Road in Newry, appeared at court by videolink from Lurgan PSNI station where he was charged with six offences, all alleged to have been committed on 8 October this year, including possessing cocaine and cannabis, having the class A and B drugs with intent to supply, having counterfeit currency and having criminal property.
The court heard that during a search of Kiernan’s home, cops uncovered herbal cannabis 500 grams of cocaine, 600 grams of a suspected “billing agent,” 30,000 counterfeit euros and £10,000 in cash along with a ledger.
A prosecuting lawyer said within that ledger there were “slang terms” used for cocaine and cannabis and that it also detailed a collection of “64 jackets” which investigators believe is a reference to 65 kilos of cannabis.
There were also references said the lawyer, to “collecting drugs from Belfast, Portadown and Kilkeel,” adding that while counterfeit cigarettes tobacco was also seized during the search, that aspect of the investigation is being handled by the HMRC.
Arrested and interviewed Kiernan refused to answer police questions and given evidence to the court, Det. Con. Murphy said police had objections to him being freed over fears that he would abscond.
“Police believe that he may have access to cash and property to facilitate his flight from the jurisdiction given what was found at the property,” said the officer who told the court it was those seizures, along with the ledger, that give police concerns that “the defendant operates at a high level within a trafficking network.”
Under cross examination from defence counsel Damien Halleron, the detective revealed the search was conducted under the justice and security act, agreeing that when cops raided Kiernan’s home, they didn’t know what they were going to find.
Despite being pushed on the issue, he refused to confirm whether the police were acting on intelligence or an anonymous tip off from a member of the public but he did confirm that Kiernan has a limited record and that neither his partner nor his mother are suspects “at this time.”
Mr Halleron submitted that while Kiernan “is facing a serious series of charges, the police are not at this stage, in a position that he has at a middle or upper rank of an organised crime gang.”
“It could well be that he is simply a custodian for someone else,” said the lawyer who argued that the police had “taken a chance and they have found what they found.”
Mr Halleron suggested that Kiernan could be freed with a package of bail conditions and that his mother is “prepared to put forward her house as a surety.”
Freeing Kiernan on his own bail with a cash surety of £10,000, District Judge Eamon King ordered the defendant to report to police three times a week and to reside at his home address.
A further condition ordered by the judge is that Kiernan has to “keep his phone switched on at all times and answer it when it rings.”
The case was adjourned to 3 November.