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no bail Alleged 'crime gang leader' had high-end watches and diamond rings despite being on benefit

Darragh claims he was acting in duress after cocaine worth £37,000 and £5,000 cash was found in his home

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Graham Darragh

Graham Darragh

Graham Darragh

An alleged north Belfast drug dealer is a “leading member of an organised crime gang,” a police officer claimed today.

Giving evidence to Belfast Magistrates Court, Det. Const. Montgomery further claimed that Graham Darragh "funds his lifestyle and renovations to his house purely through criminal conduct".

Darragh (37), from Hopewell Place in Belfast, appeared in court by videolink from police custody where he was charges with having cocaine and possessing the class A drug with intent to supply, having class C diazepam in addition to accusations of possessing and converting criminal property, all alleged to have been committed on 25 February this year.

DC Montgomery outlined that when police raided Darragh’s home on Friday evening, they found him in an upstairs bedroom, adding that a search of the property revealed “a total of 283 grams of cocaine, five boxes of diazepam and £5,000 (€6,000) in cash".

The cocaine, said the police, has an estimated street value of around £37,000 (€44,000).

In addition, officers from the Paramilitary Crime Task Force team also seized “hundreds, if not thousands,” of self-seal deal bags and an A5 Notebook which had columns of dozens and dozens of names and figures which cops believe is a book of dealing figures.

The detective revealed that the entirety of the house was under renovation and along with the drugs and cash, Police seized a Rolex watch, a Hugo Boss watch and two gold diamond rings.

All of that was possible, said the cop, even though Darragh’s only income was “£60 a week” state benefit.

Outlined how police feared Darragh would commit further offences to recoup the loss, DC Montgomery told the court “we believe he is a member, a leading member and organiser of an organised crime gang,” and despite his claims that he was acting under duress, police say “the criminal behaviour is by choice.”

Under cross examination from defence solicitor David Jones, the officer conceded that allegation of Darragh’s alleged role was not put to him during police interviews.

Submitting that aspects of the investigation, including examinations of a mobile phone and handwriting comparison, would take a long time and lead to “unconscionable delay” in the case, Mr Jones said Darragh had “answered every question” and put forward his duress defence that “coincidentally just an hour before the police arrived”, that the drugs were left in his home by a group of men.

District Judge George Conner said: “While I acknowledge immediately that his case is not one that will proceed in any great hurry… nonetheless there’s a significant quantity of drugs involved."

“At this point I’m afraid, just looking at the hard facts, I think there too great a risk of further offences being committed if I grant bail", said the judge who remanded Darragh into custody and adjourned the case to 25 March.

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