CURTIS Warren was ushered into a Jersey court under armed guard to stand trial accused of plotting to import cannabis into the Channel island.
In scenes of unprecedented security at St Helier’s Royal Court those going into the state building were frisked and bags were thoroughly searched while police armed with submachine guns stood just feet away.
Toxteth-born Warren, 46, stands accused alongside five others of being involved in a conspiracy to import £300,000 of cannabis from mainland Europe on to the island.
He and his co-defendents all deny the charge which, according to the one count indictment, relates to a period of collusion between May 1, 2007 and July 23, 2007.
Dressed in a black polo-shirt and jeans, Warren sat alongside Liverpool-born John Welsh, 43, and James O’Brien, 44, and originally from Glasgow, in the wooden dock.
The court was convened for the first time at around 10am but within minutes Judge Sir Richard Tucker, presiding, had the room cleared to allow counsel private time to talk through legal issues.
After almost two hours delay the public was allowed back inside the grand courtroom complete with dark oak benches and high, decorated ceilings.
A panel of 70 potential jurors was brought into the public gallery.
They were then called out one by one by a number rather than by name.
Once the jury of 12 had been selected, in accordance with Jersey law, the defence was allowed to raise objections about any potential juror.
Those chosen to try the case were also given a long list of witnesses they could hear evidence from and asked to indicate if they knew any of them.
In a process lasting more than an hour 20 changes were made to the jury before defence and prosecution settled on a final panel of seven men and five women.
They were then sent home for the night and told the case would start properly at 10am thursday and Crown Advocates Howard Sharp, prosecuting, is expected to make his opening address and outline the allegations that will be made during the trial which is expected to last a month.
Warren, who gave his address to the court as Garden Lane, St Helier, was arrested in July 2007 alongside Welsh, now of Somerset Place, and O’Brien, of Tunnel Street, both St Helier.
They appeared along with local men Paul Hunt, 27, Jason Woodward, 22, and Oliver Lucas, 23, who sat on benches next to the dock.
BY Ben Rossington