A Jonesborough man accused of being concerned in the supply of Class A and B drugs after being allegedly linked to encrypted data has been refused bail.
A constable told court that police believed the 29-year-old was in charge of “account keeping” for an “organised crime gang” involved in the distribution of drugs.
Miceal Fearon, of Eden Valley, appeared charged with being concerned in the supply of Class A, being concerned in the supply of Class B and entering an arrangement to acquire criminal property at Newry Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, where he appeared via videolink from police custody.
As the charges were read, it was heard that all of the alleged offences are said to have been committed between October 8, of last year, and February 2, of this year.
The defendant confirmed that he understood the charges against him and was connected to the same by a constable.
His legal representative made no questions to the connection and informed the court that a bail application, which was objected to, would be made on his client’s behalf.
Outlining the background to the case against Fearon, the constable stated that the defendant had been allegedly linked to encrypted data obtained by police during an investigation into another individual.
He stated that Fearon was believed to be part of an “organised crime gang” involved in the distribution of drugs.
The constable told court of messages between this defendant and a William Hewitt, who faces similar charges.
It was outlined that the handle which was attributed to Fearon was one of “micealsouth’, with mention of the transferring of £100,000’s which were to be converted into Euros.
The constable also commented that there was mention of slang terms, which police believed to be in relation to drugs, allegedly used in messages between the two parties.
Fearon was connected to the data, according to the officer, through an image of himself and Mr Hewitt, along with various pictures which matched those of his family home.
The constable added that there was also a picture sent of a positive Covid test in relation to a female, who was present at the time of the defendant’s arrest and is believed to be his partner.
Outlining objections, he stated that police felt there was a likelihood to commit further offences and a risk of flight.
The constable stated that Fearon was believed to be in charge of “account keeping” for the grouping and as such had the means to flee the jurisdiction, along with his closeness to the border.
He also commented that the defendant had previously received a suspended sentence in relation to smuggling cigarettes and this “did not deter him from going deeper into criminality”.
Defence counsel submitted that Mr Hewitt, “the alleged head of the organisation”, had been released on bail.
He commented that Fearon’s closeness to the border could not form an objection and pointed to his previous attendances at court.
The legal representative continued by stating: “It was on March 29 that the family home was searched. He has had plenty of time to flee.”
He also informed the court that Fearon had issues with his kidneys and was waiting for a transplant, submitting: “A prison environment is not a good environment for a man of his health.”
District Judge Eamonn King stated: “The defendant faces three charges, on the basis of information which was harvested from encrypted phones.
“What that information illustrates is an international network of individuals involved in criminality…the defendant is involved in cross-border activity in supplying and obtaining cocaine and cannabis.”
Commenting that he was concerned at the “scale and extent” of the allegations, District Judge King refused bail and the case was adjourned until June 23 for an update.