Accused ‘has paramilitary links’

Belfast High Court Building  in Belfast
Belfast High Court Building in Belfast

The alleged head of a crime gang trying to import millions of pounds worth of drugs into Northern Ireland has links to both loyalist and republican factions, the High Court heard yesterday.

Prosecutors claimed Declan Gallagher’s connections straddled both sides of the sectarian divide.

The 32-year-old, originally from Londonderry but now living in the Greater Manchester area, also has ties to criminals in Spain and Holland, it was alleged.

Details emerged as Gallagher was refused bail on 17 drugs-related charges spanning a period between September 2013 and October 2014.

The alleged offences are linked to an investigation into a series of cannabis and cocaine seizures.

More than £2 million worth of drugs have been recovered and 18 people charged as part of the ongoing probe.

Gallagher is accused of multiple counts of conspiracy to supply and being concerned in the supply of cocaine and cannabis.

Setting out his alleged role, prosecutor Stephanie Boyd said: “There are separate gangs, for example one would be related to a loyalist group and another to a republican group.

“Whilst they have no contact with one another, these people all have contact back to Gallagher.”

The case against him was said to involve telecommunications evidence, surveillance and CCTV footage.

Mrs Boyd stressed opposition to his release was based on the risk of further offences being committed.

His barrister contended that Gallagher’s domestic setting and lifestyle do not fit with the portrayal of him as a so-called “Mr Big”.

But refusing bail, Mr Justice Weir held there was a risk Gallagher may not comply with release conditions.