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White sands UDA drug accused David Weir allowed to go to Turkey to celebrate his 40th birthday

Police opposed the application, claiming it could lead to an increased risk of Weir fleeing

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A man accused of being part of a drugs plot linked to the South East Antrim UDA is to be allowed to celebrate his 40th birthday in Turkey, a judge has ruled.

David Weir was granted permission to leave Northern Ireland for the week-long holiday while on bail over his alleged connection to a major cocaine seizure.

The 39-year-old, of Rossmore Green in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, is among four men charged with conspiracy to possess a Class A drug.

They were arrested as part of an investigation into the recovery of 1.2 kilos of cocaine in Greenisland in November 2020.

The joint PSNI and National Crime Agency (NCA) probe targeted the South East Antrim UDA, previous courts heard.

Heat sealed packages containing drugs were discovered in two cars and a specially constructed hide in nearby hedges at an area regarded as the grouping’s heartland.

The haul was said to include high purity and virtually uncut quantities of cocaine.

Prosecutors claimed the four accused were all in another vehicle subjected to covert audio monitoring during the police operation.

Based on that surveillance, Weir was assessed as a being senior figure in the organised crime gang.

Detectives have alleged he was recorded in conversations about where the drugs were seized.

But his lawyers maintain he made no incriminating comments and has not been forensically linked to the cocaine.

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Weir is currently out on bail under strict terms, including a prohibition on leaving Northern Ireland.

At Belfast Magistrates Court on Monday he sought permission to travel to Turkey with his wife next month for a 40th birthday celebration.

Police opposed the application, claiming it could lead to an increased risk of Weir fleeing.

Defence barrister Michael Boyd insisted Weir’s return after the planned holiday is not in doubt. “The idea that he would flee the country and abandon his children is ludicrous. He is a responsible, caring father,” counsel said.

Granting the temporary bail variation, Judge Alan White backed the defence submissions.

Judge White confirmed: “I’m prepared to suspend the conditions which require him to remain in Northern Ireland for one week.”

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