Drugs charges dropped against Coleraine man

A PROLIFIC offender has had six drugs charges against him dropped by the Public Prosecution Service due to insufficient evidence..

The case against Peter Neill (42) from Hazelbank Road, Coleraine, involved charges of possessing ecstasy and mephedrone with intent to supply but these were withdrawn by the PPS at North Antrim Magistrates’ Court on Friday in favour of a lesser charge of obstruction.

Neill’s solicitor, Garret Greene, called for the court to remove a number of unnamed bail restrictions imposed on the defendant by the high court in Belfast, which he described as “punitive” for a man facing only one charge.

The withdrawn drug allegations arose out of a police raid of Neill’s Hazelbank Road flat on January 29, 2010, when it took police 12 attempts with a battering ram to gain access to the defendant’s home only to find him watching the raid on a 50” TV. The attached closed circuit camera system had been installed and paid for by the Northern Ireland Office to protect the defendant.

Police objected to the removal of Neill’s bail conditions citing his obstruction of their investigation when he refused to open the door. A constable also claimed Neill further attempted to obstruct officers when he chewed-up and spat out, his phone’s sim card.

District Judge, Richard Wilson, agreed with Mr. Greene that the bail restrictions were “disproportionate to the remaining charge on this occasion.”

Neill, who remains free on bail, is expected to return to court on April 20 when a date will be set for a preliminary enquiry (PE).