A MAN charged in connection with what police allege were attempts to arrange the importation of cannabis worth over £200,000 has had an application to vary bail refused after he claimed an electronic monitoring tag on his ankle was making him "embarrassed" when attending a gym.
Joseph Dornan (42), of no fixed abode, Ballymena, is charged in relation to June, 2020.
A defence lawyer said they defendant was "embarrassed" by the ankle tag when he attended the gym and there had been no bail breaches.
He also wanted to vary a bail curfew.
Objecting to a bail variation, a police officer alleged the defendant had been involved in the 'EncroChat' mobile phone network platform and is "believed to be part of an international drug trafficking ring moving significant sums of cash and drugs in and out of the jurisdiction".
He said the removal of EncroChat "as a secure means of communications" meant police were concerned the defendant would attempt to meet directly with others to continue to arrange their activities.
He said the tag and curfew were put in place by the courts to "reduce the timeframe" for such activities.
Regarding Dornan, the officer said although "no actual drugs were seized" the investigation centred on the EncroChat database which was "mainly photographs and text messages".
He told Ballymena Magistrates Court the defendant had allegedly been "trying to arrange the importation" of 23 kilos of herbal cannabis from England with a "potential street value up to £230,000".
District Judge Nigel Broderick said the defendant faces "potentially quite serious" charges.
He added: "I'm told the tag on his ankle is a source of embarrassment if he went to a gym and I can understand that but equally I have to balance that embarrassment at the gym with the need to prevent further offences and to address the concerns the police have".
The judge refused the bail variation and the case was adjourned to January 13.
- Main picture: Generic image of a gym.