Pair charged over gun, cannabis and cocaine

Court
Court

A man and woman have appeared in court accused of having a handgun, cocaine and cannabis.

Appearing side by side in the dock of Lisburn Magistrates’ Court on Saturday, 25-year-old Ashleigh Philpott and Cameron Mearns, 29, confirmed that they understood the five charges against them.

They are jointly charged with possessing class A cocaine and class B cannabis with intent to supply, simple possession of the drugs and having a 9mm pistol under suspicious circumstances, all of which are alleged to have occurred on July 10.

The charges arise after officers from the Organised Crime Branch raided Philpott’s home at Trinity Square in Magheralin and uncovered the firearm, the cocaine which is estimated to be worth £7,200 and the cannabis, said to have a street value of around £10,000.

A PSNI detective constable said she believed she could connect the pair to the charges and that police were objecting to Philpott being released on bail.

Mearns, of no fixed abode, did not apply for bail so District Judge Alan White remanded him into custody to appear again on August 7.

The court heard that as police arrived at Philpott’s house, Mearns was allegedly taking the seized items out of a car parked in the drive way while Philpott was in the front garden.

Defence solicitor Mark Crawford, appearing for both defendants, said Mearns had “accepted if not culpability then responsibility for the matters,” and submitted that without any forensic evidence to link Philpott to the gun and drugs, “there’s an extremely weak case against this lady”.

He added that Mearns had “raised a duress defence” during police interviews.

Despite police objections that she may reoffend if released, Mr Crawford said Philpott owned her own home, has a responsible job as a manageress of a chain of chemists and has no criminal convictions whatsoever.

During her police interviews, Philpott gave two prepared statements where she denied knowing anything about the gun or drugs and claimed she did not take either cocaine or cannabis.

Releasing Philpott on her own bail of £500 with an order to reside at her home address, Judge White said he was “just about finding that there’s sufficient evidence to connect her”.

“I have to say I share the defence view that it seems [doubtful] to me whether this case will proceed but it may be in the course of the investigation that further evidence will come to light,” said the judge.

Philpott is also due back before the court on August 7.