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Man and woman appear in court after £15,000 seizure of suspected heroin near Newry

A bail application by one of the accused was rejected with the district judge remarking that 'the importation of heroin from another country to our country is a very serious offence'

A man and woman appeared in court this week following the seizure of suspected heroin on Monday.

The charges come after an Audi car was stopped as it was driving northbound on the A1 carriageway near Newry on Sunday evening. With the assistance of a police drugs dog, a search of the vehicle was conducted.

A follow-up search was then carried out at a flat in the west Belfast area where a quantity of herbal cannabis and other drug related paraphernalia was recovered.

John Joseph Goodman, 39, of Glenbawn Close in Dunmurry, and Kristina Ponisi, 26, of Windermere Gardens, appeared charged with possession of Class A, possession of Class A with intent to supply and importing class A at Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry, on Tuesday.

Goodman faces further charges of using a vehicle without insurance, no driving licence, possession of Class B and possession of Class C.

Meanwhile, Ponisi is charged with permitting no insurance and permitting no driving licence.

Appearing via videolink from police custody, both defendants confirmed that they understood the charges they faced and were connected to the same by a constable.

Defence counsel made no question to the connection and informed court that a bail application was to be made on behalf of Ponisi only.

Objecting to bail, the constable claimed that this defendant had played a “very active and integral role”, adding that it would not have happened without her.

He alleged both defendants had been travelling back and forth across the border in this operation in Ponisi’s car.

The constable submitted that police believed this was “not a one-off”, with the defendant’s vehicle making a similar journey on May 30 and a car which she hired on May 18 doing the same.

He commented: “She has suffered serious financial loss, whether this is her money or money owed to another, it is believed she will commit further offences to recoup the loss.”

Court heard that Ponisi planned on living with her mother and seven-year-old child in West Belfast, with the constable stating that the views of Social Services were being sought.

He added that the defendant’s sister had commented that “paramilitaries” would not want Ponisi to return to West Belfast.

Defence counsel stated: “This is a woman who has never been before a court; she has no record, she is a naive and quite impressionable 26-year-old.”

District Judge Bernie Kelly said: “Taking everything into the round, the importation of heroin from another country to our country is a very serious offence.

“I am reminded that the seriousness of an offence is not grounds for refusing bail…both defendants face by and large the same charges and I am not satisfied she is a suitable candidate for bail.”

Bail was refused both in relation to the address and risk of further offences, and both defendants were remanded in custody to appear before Newry Magistrates Court on June 30.

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