Suitcase abandoned in Belfast alleyway contained £75,000 of Cannabis, Court told

Monday's hearing was held at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

A suitcase abandoned in an east Belfast alleyway contained up to £75,000 worth of herbal cannabis, a court has been told.

Police claimed the drugs-laden item of luggage was ditched after officers challenged a man as part of an intelligence operation.

Anthony Lowndes appeared at Belfast Magistrates’ Court in connection with the seizure made last Friday.

The 34-year-old, of no fixed abode, is charged with possessing Class B drugs with intent to supply.

Police officers allegedly spotted him carrying a black suitcase towards them in an alleyway at Imperial Drive.

But when asked to stop he turned around, dropped the bag and ran away at speed, a detective claimed.

Lowndes was pursued and detained in the nearby Florida Drive area.

“When police examined the suitcase it was full of herbal cannabis, approximately five kilos,” the detective said.

He told the court the drugs have an estimated street value of between £50,000 and £75,000.

Two other men, aged 52 and 40, were arrested after a car was stopped in the area during the same incident. They were later released on police bail.

The detective confirmed: “It was an intelligence-led stop.”

Lowndes is also charged with possessing small quantities of suspected cannabis and cocaine discovered in searches at an address linked to him.

Opposing his application for bail, the detective claimed he may be part of a criminal network.

Defence solicitor Owen Beattie disputed the police assessment and insisted: “It’s complete nonsense that the defendant is part of an organised crime gang.”

Mr Beattie also raised issues about the level of police disclosure on the background to the investigation. He argued that the case against his client is circumstantial.

Bail was refused, however, due to concerns about any potential reoffending.

District Judge Mark McGarrity remanded Lowndes in custody, to appear in court again next month.

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