Coach left sickened by needle find

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A local football coach has spoken of his shock at finding a hypodermic needle, containing the remains of a brownish liquid, in a street in Portadown town centre.

Mark Uprichard, a father-of-two, said he felt “physically sick” that the syringe could have been picked up by children.

Mr Uprichard, who coaches Markethill Swifts Under 9s, came across the needle in Duke Street last Wednesday when he was out on his lunch break from work.

The street leads to the Fairgreen recycling centre and is used by people accessing the adjacent car park.

He said, “I went back to work and got heavy rubber gloves and picked it up with those. Then I took it back to work and disposed of it.

“It had a brownish liquid in it. I thought it might be heroin because of the colour. Someone had used it and just dropped it on the street. If this had got into the wrong hands, you could have had a child or someone else having to be tested for HIV or hepatitis.

“I can’t believe this is what the town has come to.”

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council is responsible for dealing with any such needles.

A spokesperson said, “A supervisor attends and uses high protection gloves and a litter picker to remove the needle and it is placed in a sharps box for safe disposal.”

Three months ago, nine people were arrested in the town after police carried out a pro-active operation into the possession and supply of heroin in the greater Portadown area.

At a court hearing one of the men arrested was described as “a member of an organised crime gang who supplied heroin on a daily basis”.

Another defendant, with an address in Portadown, was said to be linked to the supply of heroin connected to the death of a young man in the Magherafelt area.