Cannabis was on its way from Spain to Portadown

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If a 29-year-old man, alleged to part of a gang bringing large amounts of cannabis into the country, was released on bail police believed they may never see him again, Craigavon Magistrates court heard last Friday.

A detective said this during a bail application on behalf of Cao Jiahuan, Clonavon Avenue, Portadown.

The defendant faces charges of illegal entry to the United Kingdom and aiding and abetting the illegal importation of cannabis on October 12 last year.

Jiahuan appeared in court by way of videolink from Maghaberry prison.

Opposing bail the detective said the case involved the interception of £300,000 worth of herbal cannabis which was on its way from Spain to Portadown.

He alleged that he defendant was at an address in Portadown to pick up one of the parcels worth £130,000.

The officer further alleged that Jiahuan was part of a crime gang bringing large amounts of cannabis to Northern Ireland.

He also said that the defendant’s DNA had been found in a cannabis factory in Belfast. As well he was an illegal immigrant with no family ties in this jurisdiction so he was a flight risk.

Under cross examination he agreed that two other individuals involved in the same case had been given bail.

But, he added, this defendant was totally unknown to immigration and police were concerned if he was released ‘we may never see him again’.

A solicitor representing Jiahuan said he had initially been in the Republic of Ireland on a student visa.

He explained that his client had been living at an address in Portadown for two months and been paying rent while working in various takeaways in the area.

Refusing bail District Judge, Mr Mervyn Bates, said the defendant had no ties or legal status in Northern Ireland and in his view the risk of flight was extremely high. He would have no reason to remain if he was released.

He told Jiahuan he had the right to apply to the High Court and remanded him in custody to appear on videolink on February 12.