Coleraine man saw cop raid on NIO camera

A COURT has heard that a Coleraine man, who has been charged with supplying ecstasy and mephedrone, watched police officers break down his front door via a CCTV camera which was installed by the Northern Ireland Office.

Garrett Green, a solicitor for prolific offender Peter Neill (42) of Hazelbank Road, told North Antrim Magistrates’ Court during a bail hearing that the camera was for Neill’s own protection.

North Antrim Magistrates Court heard that Neill, who is also charged with possession and possession with intent to supply ecstasy and mephedrone, was refused bail as the investigating officer said police believed he was supplying drug dealers.

The court heard on January 29 this year officers had to force the ‘heavily fortified door’ at his flat after Neill allegedly ignored their requests to be let in.

Once they entered they found the defendant in the front room where a TV screen was playing live footage of his front door area.

They also noticed a mobile phone minus its back cover and Neill chewing on something, which officers said they believed was a sim card.

A search was carried out at the property after officers had stopped the co-accused Stephen Thomas Paul McLaughlin (22) of Eglinton Street, Portrush in Pates Lane after he had left the defendant’s flat.

McLaughlin was found to have 112 ecstasy tablets, 20 wraps of mephedrone powder and £220 in cash, and under interview he admitted to having the drugs saying he intended to go to a party in Portrush to give the drugs to people who had pre-paid for them.

At Neill’s home officers found one tablet similar to those they found on McLaughlin.

However in the communal area outside his flat they seized 28 grammes of mephedrone, 70 ‘Viagra type’ tablets and 24 ecstasy tablets, in two separate stores - and behind the CCTV camera.

Over 100 polygrip bags were also found and during interview Neill admitted his fingerprints may be on these bags as he used them to keep mobile phone parts and jewellery in.

Detective Inspector, Sean Fitzpatrick, told the court he was opposing bail as he believes the defendant ‘is at the top end of the supply chain supplying the dealers’.

Det Insp Fitzpatrick said he believed Neill would, who has over 170 previous convictions, continue to commit offences and interfere with the co-accused who has since been released on bail.

He added there was a fear the defendant could leave the jurisdiction as he breached previous bail conditions in January last year and police were unable to locate him for several weeks.

Defence solicitor Garrett Greene said this was his client’s only breach in what was a lengthy period on bail.

In relation to the mobile phone sim card Mr Greene asked the investigating officer if Neill had offered to be taken for an x-ray.

Det Insp Fitzpatrick replied he had but added this would have been pointless as it wouldn’t have shown up because they believed the defendant had chewed it up.

Mr Greene said he had confidence Neill would abide by bail conditions despite his lengthy record, and added there was only police evidence against his client and the co-accused had made full admission.

Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer said he didn’t consider Neill a suitable for bail.

“This is not some ‘patsy’ we are dealing with,” he said. “The defendant has been described at being at the level of a supplier.

“There is a prima facie case being built here. Drugs and significant drugs paraphernalia were found at the property which the defendant accepts may have his fingerprints on.

“His record has shown he is incapable of abiding by the law.

“There are no conditions I could impose which would give me any confidence that he would adhere to his bail.”