Belfast taxi driver ‘stored cannabis to pay drug debt’

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A north Belfast taxi driver allegedly agreed to store £45,000 worth of cannabis resin in a bid to reduce his own drug debt, the High Court has heard.

Colin Pilson’s lawyer described him as “a perfect patsy”, desperate to pay off a £1,600 bill from an addiction to cocaine.

The father-of-two, from Forthriver Link in the city, is charged with possessing class B drugs with intent to supply following the seizure made last week.

He was granted bail on condition that he reports to police daily.

Officers recovered nine kilos of cannabis during searches of a property linked to Pilson in the Glencairn area of Belfast on September 13.

He handed himself in at a PSNI station early the next morning after taking time to “get his nerve up”, the court heard.

Prosecution counsel said Pilson told police he owed £1,500-£1,600 from his own cocaine addiction, paying it off by £100 a week.

The accused claimed a man he refused to name offered to cut the debt and repayments by around a half if he would store cannabis.

According to Pilson’s account someone was to phone him and arrange to collect the packages from him.

“He said he had not been threatened to store the drugs, however he did feel he would come under pressure with regards his outstanding debt,” the prosecutor added.

Defence barrister Richard McConkey argued that his client was not on the police radar.

“He’s a perfect patsy for drug dealers; a debt accrued and someone completely desperate to get out of that debt who is the easiest person to store the drugs.”

At one point Pilson, who appeared via prison video-link, broke down as it was revealed that his wife had tragically died when she was in her 30s.

Granting bail, Lord Justice Weatherup said Pilson would now be watched closely by police.

He ordered the accused to report to the PSNI daily and surrender his passport.