POLICE discovered £110,000 in cash inside a spare tyre in a black Vauxhall Astra they had stopped close to Ballygawley roundabout last Thursday (July 22), a court has heard.
As a result of the find, a couple from Carrickfergus appeared before Dungannon Magistrates Court the following morning (Friday) by videolink from custody in Omagh PSNI station.
Martin Anthony Murphy (49) and his partner Helen Duff (45), of Castlemara Drive, were charged with possession of the proceeds of crime.
A PSNI detective constable told the court that the vehicle was stopped under the Misuse of Drugs Act following information received. He added that a spare wheel was ‘bald’ and the cash was found inside the rubber.
The detective also stated that neither Murphy or Duff gave an account of the origin of the money during police interviews. Three mobile phones were also seized from the car and they are being examined.
The defendants’ home address was searched, but no further evidence was found.
Murphy made no comment during interview while Duff said she went for a drive with her partner, but was unaware of the cash in the vehicle.
Omagh solicitor, Michael Fahy, made a bail application on behalf of Duff, while barrister Michael Ward represented Murphy.
Police opposed bail on the grounds that both defendants are likely to commit further offences, that they may fail to appear for court hearings and may interfere with the police investigation.
The court was told that Duff has no criminal record while Murphy has 56 previous convictions, the last in 2011.
The detective suggested that they may commit further crimes in a bid to recoup the money and police believe it is linked to drugs. He also stated that the tyre containing the cash had been in the car for a short period of time, likely to be half an hour.
Mr Fahy and Mr Ward stated that their clients do not have the trappings of wealth and are unlikely to be recruited as “couriers” of illegal merchandise as they are now on the police radar. It was also stated that Murphy had no history of failing to appear for court hearings.
They also said there did not appear to be any way in which the couple could interfere with a police investigation as their home was searched and police have their mobile phones.
Asking for bail, they suggested it may be two years before the case goes before a court.
Deputy district judge, Sean O’Hare, refused bail on the grounds that Murphy and Duff could interfere with the investigation. However, he called on the police to “outline in chapter and verse what investigations are being held and how these defendants being in custody is essential for that”.
The defence indicated they will appeal to the High Court for bail. Murphy and Duff will appear before the court again on August 20.