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'[euro]1.7m drug smuggler' under threat from Dublin gangsters; Court told of 'bullet in the head' warning.

Byline: ALAN ERWIN

A "PETROLHEAD" allegedly smuggled a [euro]1.7million drug haul into the North under a threat of being killed by a gangster linked to the Hutch-Kinahan feud, a court heard yesterday.

Neil Davidson claims he agreed to hide drugs in his stockcar trailer as part of efforts to pay off personal debts of [euro]31,000.

His lawyer told the High Court in Belfast the 28-year-old had been introduced to a man connected to the Dublin feud who warned he would get "a bullet in the head" if the operation failed.

Details emerged as Davidson was granted bail on charges brought over the drugs seizure in Belfast's docks area on September 23.

He was arrested after leaving the Cairnryan ferry in a BMW X5 transporting his stockcar back from Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Cocaine with an estimated street value of [euro]1.11million, heroin worth [euro]574,000, and cannabis resin valued at [euro]2,3000 was found under the floor of the steel trailer.

Prosecutor Stephanie Boyd said police had never before seen such a wellcompressed consignment, with a blade required to obtain a sample. Davidson, of no fixed address but living at rental accommodation in Portadown, Co Armagh, faces charges of importing and possessing Class A and Class B drugs with intent to supply.

He made admissions to police straight away, claiming to have acted under duress and in return for a [euro]6,000 payment.

The court heard he has made 11 trips to Holland since March.

Opposing bail, Mrs Boyd claimed he was a trusted member of a gang attempting to bring in a major drugs haul for distribution across Ireland.

Defence counsel Joe Brolly argued, however, that Davidson was a classic patsy identified because he was a "clean potato" who regularly travelled to the Netherlands with his stockcar.

He added the accused, an unemployed steel fabricator, has raced competitively since the age of 14. Mr Brolly said: "He would be described as a petrolhead, his passion for stockcar racing has brought him all over Europe in the past decade."

The court heard that after getting into debt through being out of work Davidson was put in touch with a man from Swords, North Dublin, referred to only as "Joe".

Mr Brolly added Joe was said to be involved in the deadly feud between the Hutch and Kinahan crime families.

The barrister said: "He [Davidson] was told by Joe he would have to do this or a bullet would be put in his head.

"Arrangements were made for him to travel to Amsterdam and on to Rotterdam where he met two men in a car park.

"Packages were then secreted in a trailer and he drove them back with his stockcar."

Mr Justice Burgess was told the defendant refuses to reveal the identitiesthose he dealt with believing "there's no doubt he would be killed".

Details of the accused's chronic health problems were also disclosed, including two liver transplants and regular trips to King's College Hospital in London.

Granting bail, the judge banned Davidson from travelling except for medical appointments.

news@irishmirror.ie

[euro]1.1m Estimated street value of cocaine found in the docks area swoop [euro]6k Sum the defendant claims he received for transporting drugs

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Oct 4, 2016
Words:544
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