Diazepam import plot accused freed on bail

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A man allegedly involved in a plot to flood Northern Ireland with Diazepam tablets is to be released from custody, a High Court judge has ruled.

Paul McClafferty, 33, was granted bail on charges connected to a major investigation into the suspected illegal distribution of vast amounts of prescription drugs posted from England.

But Mr Justice O’Hara imposed tight conditions, including a ban on having any electronic communications devices.

McClafferty, of Glenview Street in north Belfast, faces charges of conspiracy to supply and being concerned in the supply of Diazepam between August 2014 and last month.

His co-accused include mother and son Liam and Kelly Clarke, aged 21 and 45, and both of Ardoyne Road in the city.

At previous court hearings it was disclosed that packages intercepted at a depot in Belfast after being sent from Stoke-On-Trent last August contained 30,000 pills.

Detectives were said to be examining 32,000 text messages as part of the ongoing probe.

As McClafferty mounted an application for bail a prosecution lawyer confirmed police were not opposing his release.

She said the only other co-accused still in custody is Liam Clarke, adding: “He is viewed as the organised crime gang leader in Northern Ireland.”

The prosecution stressed, however, that it was seeking a series of conditions aimed at preventing any potential reoffending.

They included a prohibition on having a mobile phone or using a telecommunications device “except in a life and death emergency”.

Granting bail on those terms, Mr Justice O’Hara also ordered McClafferty to abide by a curfew and electronic monitoring.

The accused is banned from having any prescription drugs unless approved by his doctor.