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Man refused bail on charges linked to encrypted phone data

He is facing firearm and drug-related charges

mobile phone

A Portadown man charged with offences including conspiracy to import Class B drugs and conspiracy to possess a firearm has been refused bail over a previous conviction.

The 44-year-old’s barrister told court that the case “lives and dies by the phone data” and envisaged that there would be “problems with admissibility”.

Jeffery William McClean, of the Hawthorns, is charged with being concerned in offering to supply Class A, being concerned in offering to supply Class B, conspiracy to import Class B, conspiracy to possess a firearm in suspicious circumstances, possession of a prohibited weapon and attempted possession of a prohibited weapon.

The case was listed at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Lisburn, on Friday for the purposes of a bail application, which was opposed.

Prosecution barrister Robin Steer informed the court that the defendant had been refused bail at his first appearance on September 2 due to risk of further offences.

Mr Steer outlined how McClean had been arrested and charged after the PSNI, working in tandem with the NCA, obtained previously hidden data from encrypted handsets.

The barrister revealed that among the received messages were discussions in which the defendant allegedly asked about how much a Glock pistol would cost, and there was also allegedly evidence that he had tried to obtain a taser.

He stated that McClean was connected to the data which has been retrieved through the content of the messages including an image matching his kitchen counter and references to his wife and her impending birthday.

Mr Steer accepted that other individuals had since been granted bail but said that bail would be objected to with regards to defendants with relevant previous convictions.

It was revealed that, McClean had previously been convicted of possession of Class A with intent back in 2004, for offences of the previous year.

Defence barrister Conn O’Neill pointed to a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice which ruled certain data should not be collected unless it was a matter of “national security”.

He submitted that the case “lives and dies by the phone data” and envisaged “problems with admissibility”.

However, Mr Steer stated he was aware of this ruling but claimed it only applied to “bulk” warrant cases with this being one in which a “thematic” warrant was used.

Mr O’Neill added: “This prior offence was from 2003, he was on bail for 18 months and in the end was handed a suspended sentence. That is the only grain that is preventing his bail from being granted.”

District Judge Rosie Watters refused bail citing concern of risk of further offences and the case was adjourned until November 27.

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