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Man accused of litany of offences including conspiracy to murder released into police custody

His defence highlighted his client's concerns about having to go into isolation before returning to the prison's general population after police questioning

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A man accused of conspiracy to commit murder, along with a litany of drug offences, will be released into police custody for questioning.

Previously court heard that the allegations against the 41-year-old were based upon an “encrypted phone” which police had “lawfully” accessed.

Michael O’Loughlin, of Upper Dromore Road, Warrenpoint, appeared at Newry Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, via videolink from Maghaberry.

The defendant is charged with two counts of conspiracy to murder, being concerned in the supply of Class A, B and C, conspiracy to possess Class A, B and C with intent to supply, conspiracy to transfer criminal property, conspiracy to convert criminal property, conspiracy to produce Class B, conspiracy to fraudulently import Class A, conspiracy to fraudulently import Class B, conspiracy to rob, conspiracy to make or supply a fraudulent article, conspiracy to possess a firearm in suspicious circumstances, possession of Class B and possession of Class C.

Detective Constable Darren Flanagan made it known that police were making an Article 47 application to have O’Loughlin released into their custody in Banbridge for 24 hours to be questioned.

Defence barrister Aaron Thompson confirmed the application was being consented to before District Judge Eamon King granted the police request.

Mr Thompson voiced concerns regarding progress in the case commenting: “Mr O’Loughlin is one of the few still in custody in these encrypted data cases and he has been marked as a priority.”

Prosecution informed the court that a full file had been submitted and this was under consideration.

However, it was added that there were “outstanding matters” before a decision could be made. This included members of the PSNI possibly having to travel to attend the National Crime Agency in England to view data.

Mr Thompson suggested that a fresh bail application may be lodged, and he also highlighted his client’s concerns about having to go into isolation before returning to the prison’s general population following police questioning.

Speaking to to court, Mr O’Loughlin commented: “My mental health suffers very badly in isolation. I’ve been in there twice already.”

Detective Constable Darren Flanagan stated that the defendant would be temperature checked before entering police custody and that representations would be made to the prison service regarding isolation.

The case was then adjourned until February 10 for an update.

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