By Paul Higgins
A Lithuanian lorry driver allegedly at the centre of an international “large scale criminal conspiracy” was remanded into custody today (tues.)
Refusing to free Modestas Mockevicius, District Judge Trevor Brown said his claims of having £100,000 in cash for IVF treatment was “a very unconvincing explanation” so given the seriousness of the charges and the 41-year-old ties to Lithuania, “there’s every incentive for him, not only to reoffend, but perhaps to be spirited away or to disappear from detection and further investigation, which might lead to other criminals.”
Following a police operation in Markethill and south Armagh on Sunday Mockevicius, with an address in Derrymore Meadows in Bessbrook, was charged with possessing class B and C drugs with intent to supply, simple possession of cannabis and sleeping clonazapam and possessing criminal property.
With the father-of-two appearing at Armagh Magistrates Court, sitting in Newry, by video link from police custody, a police officer said he believe he could connect Mockevicius to each of the charges and that police were objecting to bail due to fears he would reoffend or flee the jurisdiction.
The officer revealed that ten years ago, Mockevicius was extradited to Lithuania on foot of a European arrest warrant and that while he lives her, his family are on holiday in Lithuania at the moment so there was a serious risk of flight.
In addition, the officer suggested that with £100,000 in sterling and euros seized, “he is now at loss of a substantial amount of money and drug stock so he may seek to reoffend to recoup that”.
Under cross examination from defence solicitor Gabriel Ingram, the officer agreed Mockevicius claimed during interviews that he didn’t trust banks and he and his wife had been saving for another round of IVF treatment to have another child.
The lawyer told the court that Mockevicius has worked as a lorry driver for an Armagh based firm for the last 12 years and argued that his client was the only one of the six people arrested who was not granted police bail.
He submitted that given the complexity of the case and the need for forensic examinations, “in terms of testing of alleged drugs, telephones and such like, quite comfortably this will take between six and probably likely closer to 12 months.”
Refusing bail however DJ Brown said he was satisfied that “this defendant and his home address are linchpins within what, on the basis of the prima facie evidence, is a large scale criminal conspiracy straddling at least one other jurisdiction and which he, on the basis of the evidence available, is closely involved.
“That is corroborated in my view by the very substantial amount of cash for which a very unconvincing explanation has been proffered.”
Remanding Mockevicius into custody, he adjourned the case to 2 August.