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Lorry driver remanded into custody after £2m cannabis found in trailer

A lorry driver was remanded into custody today (Saturday) after 130 kilos of cannabis was found in his trailer.

Mark Burke (25) appeared at Belfast Magistrates’ Court by videolink from police custody where he was charged with three drug offences relating to the class B drug.

Burke, from the Ballynabraget Road in Donaghcloney, was charged with possessing cannabis, having the class B drug with intent to supply and being concerned in the supply of cannabis on 1 June this year.

A Detective constable told the court how officers stopped and searched the trailer Burke was towing after he disembarked from the Cairnryan ferry on Thursday evening.

Hidden in amongst a quantity of mattresses and tents, police uncovered 130 kilos of cannabis in “vacuum packed bags for life,” said the officer adding that the estimated street value is around £2million.

Burke’s mobile phone was also seized but he refused to give police the PIN code to it although during interviews, he gave police a full account of his movements having driving from a “Christian festival” in Brighton to the ferry port at Cairnryan, stopping for legal breaks along the way, and naming who he was officially working under subcontract for.

Denying any knowledge of the cannabis, Burke claimed he was due to leave the trailer in Antrim but he did not know where specifically.

Objecting to Burke being freed, the detective said police believe “there’s an organised crime gang behind this importation” so as such, if Burke was freed he could interfere with the investigation or commit further offences to recoup the loss.

Defence counsel Bobbi Rea argued that Burke had a clear record so there was little risk of further offences especially as “to say that the spotlight of the law would be on him would something of an understatement.”

He highlighted that as a subcontracted driver, “the trailer isn’t his” and according to Burke, he was not involved in loading anything on to it and had no knowledge of the cannabis haul.

Describing it as a “very significant amount of drugs,” District Judge George Conner said he feared “there’s too high a risk of further offences and interference with the investigation” so he remanded Burke into custody to appear again on 30 June.

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