Meth lab found inside van 'could have caused explosion'

The find was made on Saturday morning Credit: UTV

Twenty dangerous methamphetamine-making chemicals seized in east Belfast could have caused in explosion, a court heard today.

Police claimed the equipment and "cooking" instructions found inside a van were linked to a gang distributing the Class A drug across Northern Ireland.

Details emerged as a 34-year-old man was refused bail on charges connected to the find made early on Saturday morning.

Tomas Sujan, a Slovakian national, is accused of possession and production of methamphetamine. Belfast Magistrates' Court heard police searched his flat on the Ballygowan Road and discovered a small quantity of the drug.

Chemicals, a suspected deal-list, scales and directions on how to cook methamphetamine were located in the van parked outside.

A detective said: "The operation to produce these drugs would be highly volatile and dangerous.

It's our belief that more has been made an distributed throughout Northern Ireland."

District Judge George Conner was told Sujan denies any role in the production, however the detective said his account about the material found in his vehicle "doesn't add up".

He claimed the accused has specialist knowledge which made him an asset to a wider gang operating within the Belfast area.

"There was an immediate and real threat to the public had the wrong chemicals been mixed slightly differently," the detective added.

"It would have caused an explosion and serious harm."

Defence solicitor Hamill Clawson told the court Sujan accepted owning the van, but maintained that the caustic soda and cleaning products found in it belonged to someone else.

Denying bail, however, Mr Conner said: "Because of the nature of this particular drug, the manner in which it is manufactured, and the dangerousness that arises from its consumption, there's too high a risk that members of the public may be seriously injured."

He remanded Sujan in custody to appear again by video-link in four weeks time.