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Newry woman accused of having ‘full spectrum’ of drugs, cash and counterfeit goods refused bail

Whitney Hughes

A Newry woman appeared in court today (Wednesday) accused of having the “full spectrum” of drugs, cash and counterfeit football clothing.

Appearing at Newry Magistrates’ Court by video link from police custody, 30-year-old Whitney Hughes confirmed she understood the 14 charges against her, all alleged to have been committed on July 4 (Monday) this year.

Hughes, from Ardcarn Park in the city, faces 12 drug charges relating to possessing, supplying and intending to supply heroin, cocaine, cannabis and amphetamine as well as two charges relating to possessing criminal cash and trading in counterfeit football clothing.

Giving evidence to the court, Det. Const. McAteer outlined how the items were uncovered during a search of a storage container on the Mountain Road on Monday with cops seizing seven kilos of cannabis, 200 grams of cocaine and 113 grams of heroin, along with 12,000 Euro in cash.

In addition, police also found evidence of cocaine and cannabis being used in the storage container, “scales and other drug paraphernalia” and a quantity of “suspected counterfeit football jerseys, boots and other items” along with a gold plated iPhone stamped “gold for you first edition.”

“That’s a product that her business purports to offer,” the detective explained, adding that police had also found a gold for you business card in the container and that the cash was held together with a hair clip that had “long dark hair on it” which has been sent for DNA testing.

Police enquiries established that the phone number on the business card was associated with Hughes and also that the container had been rented out in her name with her mobile number also registers in the rental agreement.

Arrested and interviewed, Hughes remained silent throughout and DC McAteer said given her refusal to answer police questions, the police had no evidence as to what her lawful income might be.

“Anything we have uncovered suggested that her lifestyle is funded by drug dealing,” said the officer, adding that police had “real concerns” about further offences if Hughes was freed.

“We are talking in the region of 550, if not more, individual heroin deals and we are talking about a massive amount of money which will have to be recouped somehow,” concluded the detective.

Under cross examination from defence solicitor Chris Logue, the officer agreed that nothing untoward was found when they searched Hughes’ address and that he had no direct evidence to put Hughes in the storage container.

DC McAteer highlighted however that given the searches were just two days ago, nothing has come back from forensics and investigators have not yet had time to check CCTV footage.

Mr Logue argued that it will take “an entirety of time” to get those results back but in the meantime, Hughes’ mother has put up a cash surety and had promised to “keep her under lock and key” at home.

District Judge Eamon King said the allegations related to the “full spectrum” of illicit drugs in what he described as a “sophisticated enterprise” so he shared police concerns about the risk of freeing Hughes.

“Drugs are a plague in our society and anybody who considers involving themselves in that enterprise should suffer the consequences if detected,” said District Judge King who remanded Hughes into custody and adjourned the case to August 3.

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