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Man claims he was forced to pick up cannabis

A plasterer caught with £1m worth of cannabis claimed he was threatened into collecting the drugs from a graveyard, the High Court heard yesterday.

Police also discovered cocaine with a street value of £18,000 during searches of Ian Courtney’s home in Co Antrim, prosecutors said.

Courtney (27) from Ballybeg Road, Ahoghill, faces charges of possessing Class A and Class C drugs with intent to supply. He was refused bail after a judge heard he claimed to have been forced to pick up the narcotics and store them.

Them. Prosecuting counsel Barry Valentine said Courtney claimed to have been contacted a day before 200kg of cannabis and 1.5kg of |cocaine was found at his house last November.

“He said there was a knock at the door and when he went to the door he found a mobile phone on his step,” Mr Valentine said.

“He took it into the house and received a phone call from an unknown person. This person said he should do a favour, and his life would be in danger if he didn’t.

“This same person instructed him to take the drugs from a graveyard.”

The court heard Courtney claimed to have been under threat for the last couple of years, with suggestions made that he was an informer.

Defence Barrister Richard McConkey stressed that his client had fully assisted police, and told them he acted under duress.

But rejecting Courtney’s bail application, Mr Justice McLaughlin said he calculated that 200kg of cannabis worked out at around 40 stone in weight.

The judge remarked: “It’s clear there is a serious drug operation at the root of these charges.”

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