Classroom assistant on drugs and guns charges

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A classroom assistant is allegedly linked to the seizure of guns and drugs in Belfast, a court has heard.

Police claimed 51-year-old Pauline Mackin has ties to a gang being investigated over the recovery of cocaine, cannabis, a sub-machine gun, pistol and double-barrelled shotgun.

The mother-of-two, from Downview Gardens in Belfast, faces charges of conspiracy to supply Class A and Class B drugs, and conspiracy to possess firearms and ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

She is further accused of having cannabis with intent to supply.

Two men, including her ex-partner, have already been charged with a range of offences linked to the same investigation.

Entering the dock at Belfast Magistrates’ Court, Mackin waved to her father and two sisters in the public gallery.

Police searches were first carried out at houses on Midland Close and Midland Crescent in the city last Wednesday.

In one property half a kilo of cocaine was found, while 18 cannabis plants and two hydraulic presses were located in the second, the court heard.

The guns and assorted ammunition were also seized at that stage.

One of the weapons was described as a flare gun, while the shotgun was said to be in a rusty condition.

Follow-up searches at Mackin’s home resulted in cannabis worth between £20,000-£30,000 being discovered in a bin outside, according to police.

It was claimed that the same motif from the hydraulic presses had been stamped on those drugs.

“She could offer no account of how the drugs at Downview Gardens got to be there,” the detective said.

“It would be our case that this lady was involved with these other people.”

Opposing bail, he added: “There’s a risk that if released she could be coerced into further activities with this gang.”

But defence solicitor Seamus Leonard argued that no drugs were found inside his client’s home.

He also questioned the weapons charge brought against Mackin, stressing that the guns were located in a totally different area.

Mr Leonard revealed that the accused works as a classroom assistant at a north Belfast primary school.

“This lady is going to be suspended from her job (as a result of these charges),” he predicted.

Granting bail, the district judge banned Mackin from having any contact with either co-accused.

He also imposed a curfew and prohibited her from having a mobile phone.