Two UK nationals refused bail over €7m drugs seizure following surveillance operation
October 26 2020 05:02 PM
Two UK nationals have been refused bail after being charged in relation to the seizure of over €7m worth of drugs.
Dublin District Court heard that the 352kg worth of cannabis was discovered amongst six pallets purporting to be a consignment of shoes following a surveillance operation.
Evidence was also given that one of the men when arrested was in possession of an encrypted phone, a device which a garda detective said is “widely used by organised crime groups”.
Anthony Kinghorn (47) and Mark Nesbit (50), both with addresses in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, London, appeared in court this morning after being arrested last Friday.
They are both charged with possession of drugs, and possession of a controlled substances for the purpose of sale or supply. The charges are under Section 3 and Section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 respectively.
Det Gda Gavin Curran, of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB), said that gardaí and Revenue were made aware that a large quantity of drugs was coming into the country and that 352kg cannabis was collected on six pallets from the JFK Industrial Estate along the Naas Road on Friday.
He said that these pallets were loaded onto a white Mercedes truck driven by one of the accused, Mark Nesbit.
The detective said that a short time later a second male, co-accused Anthony Kinghorn, entered the van and that it then travelled northbound along the M50.
The court heard that the vehicle was monitored by garda surveillance and that at approximately 12.25pm it travelled along Stockhole Lane, Swords.
The truck was then intercepted stopped at a gateway leading into a field full of abandoned cars and both men were arrested, the court heard.
Det Gda Curran said that Anthony Kinghorn was in possession of three mobile phones, including an encrypted device which the detective said was “widely used by organised crime groups to conduct criminal activities under the radar of police authorities.”
The court heard that Mr Kinghorn, a father-of-seven, was conveyed to Ballymun Garda Station and was later charged.
Det Gda Curran said he was objecting to bail citing the seriousness of the charge, the fact that Mr Kinghorn was “caught red-handed”, and that he was a flight risk with no ties to this jurisdiction.
He also told the court that he anticipates more serious charges on completion of the investigation file.
Det Gda Curran said it is his belief that the accused entered Ireland via Dublin Airport last Tuesday with the “sole purpose of engaging in this criminal” activity.
The detective agreed with counsel for the accused, Mark Bassett, that his client was not present when the truck was loaded and that he made no admissions during garda interview.
Judge Conal Gibbons refused bail and remanded Anthony Kinghorn in custody to appear before Cloverhill District Court next Friday, October 30.
Det Gda William Armstrong, also of the DOCB, gave evidence of arresting Mark Nesbit and conveying him to Swords Garda Station before he was later charged.
The detective said he was objecting to bail on a number of grounds, including that the accused has no ties to this jurisdiction, the seriousness of the charge and that he was caught “red-handed”.
The court heard that Mr Nesbit also entered the country last Tuesday, with Det Gda Armstrong saying it was his belief that he came to Ireland for the sole purpose of engaging in this criminal activity.
Counsel for the accused, Cahir O’Higgins, put it to the witness under cross-examination that his client’s version was that he was “duped” and that he was driving a vehicle containing drugs “unbeknownst to him”.
Det Gda Armstrong agreed that this was Mr Nesbit’s account provided during interview.
Mr O’Higgins said that details of the investigation were posted by An Garda Síochána on their social media site to “whip up a frenzy by the time it gets to court”. Asked by the solicitor why information about the case was “plastered all over” An Garda Síochána’s Facebook page, Det Gda Armstrong said the first he had heard about this was this morning from Mr O’Higgins.
Judge Gibbons interjected and said that what was on Facebook was of no concern to the court.
Mr O’Higgins submitted that his client was a father-of-three currently caring for his mother, that he also had a teenage daughter he cares for, and that he had provided gardaí with an address in the UK where he is currently residing.
Counsel also said that he “struggles to believe the valuation was correct straight out of the box two days ago on Facebook” in relation to the approximate €7m cannabis value, and asked for bail to be granted with stringent conditions.
Judge Gibbons said that, based on what he had heard, he was refusing bail and remanded Mark Nesbit to appear before Cloverhill District Court on Friday.
A third man arrested in relation to the investigation has been released without charge and a file is being prepared for the DPP.