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Ex taxi driver with hole in his nose linked to £100k bag of cocaine found in Belfast car

The court was told Stephen McAuley has a £500 per day drug habit

Stock photo© Getty Images/iStockphoto

Alan ErwinBelfast Telegraph

A former taxi driver has been forensically linked to £100,000 worth of cocaine seized from an abandoned car in north Belfast.

Stephen McAuley was arrested following fingerprint and DNA checks on a bag the consignment was discovered in nearly a year ago, police said.

The 38-year-old, of Brookvale Avenue in north Belfast, appeared at the city’s Magistrates Court charged with possessing cocaine with intent to supply.

He faces a further count of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs in connection with paraphernalia allegedly found at his home earlier this week.

Police recovered one kilo of high purity cocaine, with an estimated street value of £100,000, during searches of a vehicle abandoned in the Oldpark Road area back on January 5 this year.

Subsequent tests on the handle of a bag revealed DNA linked to McAuley.

During follow-up searches at the defendant’s home on Tuesday officers seized suspected deal bags, disposable gloves, box cutting knives and scales containing white powder.

A detective said packaging at the scene appeared to have previously contained the Class A drug.

The court was told McAuley has a £500 per day drug habit. During police interviews, he claimed drug dealers provided him with the remnants of their cocaine blocks at meetings on the street.

“That’s an account I find incredible; it’s just not plausible,” the detective contended.

“No drug dealer involved in transporting multiple kilos of Class A drugs is going to provide the remnants of their packaging which could then be linked back to them.”

Opposing bail, the detective suggested the defendant could brief a co-accused who is currently on holiday in New York.

Defence solicitor Matt Higgins told the court McAuley worked as a taxi driver until his life “fell apart” due to drug consumption.

“He had a hole in his nose and a hole in his lip because of his cocaine use,” Mr Higgins said.

But he argued that his client has since been treated in hospital and spent the past six months focused on rehabilitation.

Refusing bail, however, District Judge Alana McSorley remanded McAuley in custody to appear back in court in four weeks’ time.

She held: “Anyone involved in the transmission of drugs poses a risk to the public, and this was a significant seizure.”

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