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mammoth haul Man to face trial after 34 kilos of cannabis discovered in lorry at Larne port

Englishman Darbyshire claimed he had been paid £1,000 to deliver the haul

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Cannabis sealed in packages was found in the back of the lorry

Cannabis sealed in packages was found in the back of the lorry

Cannabis sealed in packages was found in the back of the lorry

An English lorry driver who allegedly crossed the Irish Sea with 34 kilos of cannabis was today ordered to stand trial.

Appearing at Ballymena Magistrates Court by videolink from prison, 38-year-old Darbyshire, from the Bolton Road, Asthon-In-Makerfield in Wigan, was charged with possessing cannabis with intent to supply, simple possession of the class B drug and possessing an offensive weapon, namely a lock knife at Harbour Highway, Larne on March 9 last year.

None of the facts surrounding the charges were opened today but when he was initially charged following the seizure, the court heard Darbyshire claimed he was to be paid £1,000 to deliver the haul.

The court heard that in a joint operation between the PSNI and HMRC, Darbyshire’s lorry was stopped and searched after getting off the ferry from Cairnryan.

Darbyshire admitted there was a lock knife in the cab of his lorry “for his own protection” while a search of the trailer revealed that while it had the capacity for 26 pallets, he was only carrying eight.

A police officer described how there was one pallet close to the door containing four boxes which were “very different to the fresh food” kept in the refrigerated lorry, adding that on further examination, it transpired there were sealed bags inside the boxes concealing a total of 34 kilos of cannabis which would have a “conservative value” of around £510,000.

Darbyshire “made admissions straight away", clamming that he was to be paid £1,000 for transporting the mammoth haul but the detective said the police do not accept his claims as their investigations suggest he has links to criminal gangs.

During police questioning, Darbyshire made the case that when he was in London he was contacted by someone who asked if he “would he like to earn some extra money”, claiming he had never done anything like this before “in 16 years of driving”.

In court today a prosecuting lawyer submitted there was a Prima Facie case against Darbyshire which was conceded by his defence solicitor and although given an opportunity to comment on the charges and to give evidence to the PE, the lorry driver declined.

Remanding him back into custody, District Judge Nigel Broderick returned the case to Antrim Crown Court for trial and scheduled the arraignment on 17 February.

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