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Two men caught with shipment of cannabis at Belfast docks sentenced

Co Armagh man will spend 20 months behind bars after pleading guilty

A Co Armagh man will spend 20 months behind bars after being caught handling a shipment of cannabis at Belfast Docks.

Lorry driver Gerard Bates, 26, of Wastsonville, Lurgan, and his co-accused 38-year-old Co Louth man Robert Byrne were apprehended at Belfast harbour in possession of a 48kg haul of cannabis.

Due to time already served, Byrne was told he was freed to go, however, given his late plea, Bates will serve half his 40-month sentence behind bars.

Despite the load being destined for the Republic of Ireland, Judge David McFarland said the courts in Northern Ireland take a dim view on drugs crime.

The court heard how Bates was caught transferring the cannabis from his lorry, which had just arrived from England, in to Byrne’s van, which was then destined to cross the border.

However the judge dealt with them as couriers as opposed to dealers, and that financial difficulties and deals with more dishonest people, had led to their arrests.

Read more: Keady man facing jail after beating ex-partner like ‘a punch bag’


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