Pensioner in tears over drug trafficking charges

Stock image showing a cannabis plant
Stock image showing a cannabis plant

A pensioner wept as she appeared in court on charges linked to a wider investigation into suspected multi-million pound drugs trafficking.

Margaret Watters, 64, was arrested along with her 74-year-old partner Peter Lam and another man, Lin Yang, 62, after £250,000 worth of cannabis was seized in Belfast and Co Fermanagh.

A judge was told Chinese nationals Lam and Yang are “casino buddies” who met at a gambling venue in the city.

All three are accused of possessing Class B drugs with intent to supply, conspiracy to supply and being concerned in attempted importation.

They were detained on Monday after police recovered £150,000 worth of cannabis at a property on Egeria Street in south Belfast and a further £100,00 consignment in the Enniskillen area.

Lam, of Skyline Drive in Lisburn, Co Antrim, and Yang, of no fixed address, were both remanded in custody following their appearance at Belfast Magistrates’ Court.

Watters, from Loughshore Road in Belleek, Co Fermanagh, sobbed into a handkerchief as she was led into the dock separately.

Opposing her application for bail, a detective claimed she had been evasive and selective during questioning about the cannabis seizures.

It was claimed that officers recovered an unopened parcel containing cannabis at Watters’ home following the interception of a previous package.

She admitted signing for the delivery but insisted she knew nothing about its contents, the court heard.

The detective disclosed that the seized consignments came from Spain and formed part of a wider probe.

“These seizures are in relation to larger-scale investigations, it would be multi-million pound,” he said.

According to police Watters could be “coerced” to carry out further acts by Lam, her long-term partner.

A defence solicitor stressed, however, that the pensioner provided a full account to police.

Granting bail, Deputy District Judge Joe Rice told Watters she was fortunate to be getting out of custody.

He ordered her to wear an electronic monitoring device, abide by a curfew and have no contact with her co-accused.

Watters is due back in court in two weeks time, when Lam and Yang are both expected to mount bail applications.

Asked about the two men’s relationship, their solicitor Padhraic Cunningham told the court: “They are casino buddies. They met at a casino (in Belfast).”