A lorry driver accused of transporting nearly £600,000 worth of herbal cannabis into Northern Ireland is to be released on bail, a judge ruled today.
Harbour Police seized the haul after 42-year-old Declan Hanna’s heavy-goods vehicle was stopped at Belfast Port on August 9.
Hanna, of Teconnaught Road in Crossgar, Co Down, faces a charge of possessing a Class B drug with intent to supply.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard 40 kilos of cannabis was discovered packed into three large cardboard boxes in a trailer compartment of the lorry.
Drug-related packaging and stickers, 100 vape pens and two mobile phones were also located.
The illicit consignment has an estimated street value of £585,000, according to police.
Hanna was arrested but remained silent during interviews, declining to state if he had allegedly acted under pressure.
Opposing bail, a detective claimed: “The defendant has transported a large amount of herbal cannabis into Northern Ireland.”
District Judge Ted Magill was told police are currently at an early stage in an investigation to establish if any similar trips were made in the past.
Asked for an assessment of Hanna’s alleged position within the hierarchy of the drugs smuggling operation, the detective responded: “We don’t know at this point where he fits.”
Defence counsel Aaron Thompson told the court his client has worked as a lorry driver for more than 20 years and is entitled to be presumed innocent at this stage.
He disclosed that Hanna currently lives in a static caravan on land at his mother and father’s home.
Granting bail, Mr Magill ordered the accused to surrender his passport and lodge a £3,000 cash surety.
Adjourning the case until September 13, the judge added: “I don’t mind that he’s living in a caravan because at least his parents can be close by and keep an eye on him.”
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