Kidney failing alleged Encrochat drug dealer refused bail

Peter Bayne

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Peter Bayne

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peter.bayne@newrydemocrat.com

Wednesday 26 May 2021 15:20

By Donal McMahon

BAIL has been refused for a kidney failing Jonesboro man charged with being involved in hundreds of thousands of pounds of drug deals in a European wide crackdown on Encrochat gangs.

Miceal Fearon (29) of Eden Valley is charged with supply of class A and B drugs and entering in to an agreement to acquire criminal property from October 8, 2020 to February 10, 2021.

The accused appeared at Newry magistrates via video link from an overnight Banbridge custody cell.

A PSNI detective constable said he could connect the accused to the charges and objected to the bail application due to a fear of flight and risk of further offending.

“There is an overwhelming amount of evidence,” said DC Murphy.

“The police believe he is part of an organised crime gang,” added the detective.

The magistrates was told that Mr Fearon had been asked on the text about transferring “hundreds of thousands of pounds into euro for Mr Hewitt”, with “tens of thousands of pounds of his own money” also involved.

The court heard the background of the case which involved a search of the defendant's family home and the alleged use of an encrypted phone data linked by co-accused William Hewitt (33) of Lower Foughill Road, Jonoeboro who is charged with being involved in “millions of pounds” worth of illegal drug supply.

Text messages viewed by the police were said to refer to “Will” and “Michael South” suggested as the named defendants.

The court also heard that Mr Hewitt, who was arrested earlier in the year following the discovery of 14 classic cars and a drug deal book listing millions of pounds of orders, was now out on bail.

Mr Hewitt, a shop keeper on Courtenay Hill, Newry has been alleged as the “head of the organisation”.

The PSNI detective highlighted photographs allegedly sent by Mr Fearon of a cash bundle worth £678k after a text message was sent asking “did you receive the STG”.

Street names of drugs including green (cannabis) and paint (cocaine) were identified in the said texts with an amount of 11 kilos discussed.

Other photos sent on the encrypted phone included images of Mr Fearon's bedroom and kitchen worktops.

Defence told the court that he was not willing to go into the details of the case, as they would “become clearer further down the line”.

“There was a search of the family home on March 29, if he had wanted to leave the jurisdiction he could have, but he remained and was later arrested,” said defence.

The solicitor applied for bail for his client on mitigation stating that Mr Fearon’s kidneys were functioning on only 30 per cent and that he required significant medication.

“If his kidneys go below 20 per cent he would need an implant,” said defence.

“I would suggest that prison would not be a good environment for such a medical need,” he added.

District judge Eamonn King alluded to the extensive Encrochat investigation which had been instigated initially by the French authorities before being shared across Europe leading to numerous arrested in the Newry area.

Mr King added that he was satisfied that the risk of flight and re-offending were genuine.

Bail was refused with Mr Fearon remanded into custody with the case adjourned to June 23.

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