A Ballycastle man banned from driving “for life” was spotted behind the wheel of a DLA vehicle – a Kia Sportage – and when it was searched drugs were found, it has been alleged in court.
Seamus Patrick Laverty (55), of Stroanshesk Park, is charged with seven offences including possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply and driving whilst disqualified.
He appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday via video link from Magilligan Prison.
A prosecutor opposed bail and a police officer told the court that on February 16 this year police were carrying out duties in Ballycastle when Laverty was spotted driving into Stroanshesk Park.
The court heard Laverty was “well-known” to police and it was known he was a “disqualified driver for life”. Police at the scene alleged that when approached, Laverty threw the vehicle keys under a van.
A small amount of cannabis resin was found in the defendant’s pocket after a search, it was claimed. Inside the Sportage drugs were found which had been “well hidden” and included around £850 worth of substances in ten bags.
The police officer in court said he objected to bail as he feared Laverty would commit further offences to try and recoup any previous losses regarding drugs. Defence solicitor Garrett Greene said his client was not considered a flight risk and there were no concerns about potential interference with witnesses.
He said the case was set to be prosecuted in the Crown Court because of his client’s criminal record and it might not be heard until after September. District Judge Barney McElholm said there had been an “undue delay” in the case.
“I don’t know why it takes so long for forensic tests, nobody ever explains,” he added. The judge noted that Laverty had over 220 previous convictions but continues to drive despite being banned from the road.
Judge McElholm wondered if he could expect the defendant to “honour one condition” of bail.
However, he released Laverty “because of the delay” in the case on the sum of £1,000 along with a £750 surety to reside at Stroanshesk Park with a 8pm-8am curfew and electronic tagging.
Laverty is also barred from travelling in any private motor vehicle “so buses, taxis, only,” the judge told him.
The court heard the defendant’s wife was present in court and Judge McElholm said he wanted her to understand that if Laverty was caught in a vehicle owned by her it would be seized.