An alleged heroin dealer arrested as part of a major undercover cop crackdown on the drugs trade has been remanded in to custody.
South Belfast man Kevin Gerard McCrory was charged with four offences at Belfast Magistrates Court and it was revealed that seven people have been arrested so far in the co-ordinated PSNI push against the illicit industry since last December.
McCrory of Pretoria Street in the Stranmillis area of the city was charged with possession, intent to supply and unlawfully supplying heroin on February 18 this year.
The 40-year-old unemployed man also faces a charge of acquiring criminal property — £50 cash.
It is understood that relates to the sale of a Class A drug to an undercover cop on the same date this year.
In court on Saturday, McCrory only spoke to say that he understood the charges put to him.
Opposing McCrory’s bail application, a PSNI officer said that the accused’s alleged activities posed “a real risk to public health”.
He revealed police believe that heroin was responsible for the deaths of two people in Belfast in recent months.
The officer also revealed that seven other people have been arrested as part of the PSNI’s undercover operation targeting the illicit drugs trade in the Belfast area.
Police further revealed that McCrory has 172 previous convictions — 12 of them drugs related.
The officer told that court that McCrory was given an 18 month sentence suspended for two and a half years after being found guilty of Class A and Class B drugs offences in 2010.
Last April he was also given a four month sentence suspended for two years after being found “equipped for burglary”.
Defence solicitor for McCrory, Fergal MacElhatton said that McCrory had been arrested as part of a “sting type operation”.
While questioning the PSNI officer, Mr MacElhatton said: “This is obviously an entrapment kind of arrest, isn’t it?”
The officer denied this and said that police went “into areas of known drug dealers” and that “conversations were struck up”.
However police agreed with the defence solicitor’s claim that the drug activities alleged against McCrory are “at the bottom of the food chain”.
Mr MacElhatton claimed that there was no risk of McCrory interfering with witnesses because they are police officers and that there should be a “presumption in favour of innocence”.
Rejecting the bail application, District Judge Harry McKibbin said: “It is not his first offence and there is a real risk of repeat offending.”
McCrory was remanded in custody and is due to appear in court again by videolink on May 9.
He waved at a female supporter in the public gallery as he was led away from the dock.