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Student refused bail over £350,000 drugs haul

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An accountancy student charged in connection with a £350,000 cannabis seizure in Northern Ireland must remain in custody, a High Court judge has ruled.

Tong Lu was arrested at a £2.7 million residence in Kensington, London said to be owned by her doctor and businesswoman mother.

Police seized financial records and £48,000 in cash from two safes in the property during the swoop last weekend, prosecutors said on Friday.

Lu, a 19-year-old Chinese national with an address at Iverna Gardens, London, faces charges of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs, concealing criminal property and encouraging or assisting others into committing offences.

She is allegedly connected to the drugs racket through lodgments of up to £50,000 into a bank account in her name.

Receipts were discovered during searches at an address in Belfast linked to the cannabis discovered earlier this month.

Two other women have been charged over the drugs seizures.

Opposing Lu’s application for bail, prosecution lawyer Fiona O’Kane claimed cash lodgments were made at bank branches in Belfast city centre, Ballyhackamore and Aberdeen in Scotland.

“Police say they don’t even know how deep this investigation will go,” the barrister said.

“The network of financial connections with the drugs found at various addresses in Belfast has still to be unravelled.”

Defence counsel Chris Hogg argued that his client’s alleged connection to the investigation is limited.

No evidence of drugs was found at the Kensington address owned by Lu’s mother, he stressed.

Mr Hogg claimed issues around the bank lodgments were due to “cultural differences” between the UK and China.

Lu knew little about transactions into an account allegedly set up by her mother while the accused studied at the University of Manchester, the barrister argued.

He described his client’s mother as a doctor who owns two private hospitals in China.

“The profits of both those enterprises number in the millions. That goes some way to explaining how the mother of the applicant is such a privately wealthy individual, why she owns a property in Kensington valued at £2.7m, and why there was such amounts of money being transferred.”

But refusing bail, Lord Justice Higgins said it was worrying feature that Lu’s parents are currently not in the UK.

The judge added: “The information put before the court suggests an international drugs operation of significant scale involving very large amounts of money and centred on bank accounts in this applicant’s name.

“The issue appears to be whether she is an innocent dupe in all this or a willing party.”

Tong Lu was arrested at a £2.7 million residence in Kensington, London said to be owned by her doctor and businesswoman mother.

Police seized financial records and £48,000 in cash from two safes in the property during the swoop last weekend, prosecutors said.

Lu, a 19-year-old Chinese national with an address at Iverna Gardens, London, faces charges of of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs, concealing criminal property and encouraging or assisting others into committing offences.

She is allegedly connected to the drugs racket through lodgments of up to £50,000 into a bank account in her name.

Receipts were discovered during searches at an address in Belfast linked to the cannabis discovered earlier this month.

Two other women have been charged over the drugs seizures.

Opposing Lu’s application for bail, prosecution lawyer Fiona O’Kane claimed cash lodgments were made at bank branches in Belfast city centre, Ballyhackamore and Aberdeen in Scotland.

“Police say they don’t even know how deep this investigation will go,” the barrister said.

“The network of financial connections with the drugs found at various addresses in Belfast has still to be unravelled.”

Defence counsel Chris Hogg argued that his client’s alleged connection to the investigation is limited.

No evidence of drugs was found at the Kensington address owned by Lu’s mother, he stressed.

Mr Hogg claimed issues around the bank lodgments were due to “cultural differences” between the UK and China.

Lu knew little about transactions into an account allegedly set up by her mother while the accused studied at the University of Manchester, the barrister argued.

He described his client’s mother as a doctor who owns two private hospitals in China.

“The profits of both those enterprises number in the millions. That goes some way to explaining how the mother of the applicant is such a privately wealthy individual, why she owns a property in Kensington valued at £2.7m and why there was such amounts of money being transferred.”

But refusing bail, Lord Justice Higgins said it was worrying feature that Lu’s parents are currently not in the UK.

The judge added: “The information put before the court suggests an international drugs operation of significant scale involving very large amounts of money and centred on bank accounts in this applicant’s name.

“The issue appears to be whether she is an innocent dupe in all this or a willing party.” ends

 

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