Truck driver charged in €8m drug case

A Dutch truck driver was charged today in connection with the seizure of cannabis worth more than €8m, at Dublin Port on Wednesday last.

In the largest drugs haul so far this year, officers from Revenue’s Customs service supported by gardaí seized about 700kg of the drug, with an estimated street value about €8.4m, which had been found vacuum packed in a 40ft Dutch-registered truck carrying a consignment of flowers.

The truck had travelled to Dublin Port from the Netherlands via Holyhead in Wales.

This morning, a Dutch national, who had been held for questioning, was brought before Dublin District Court, at the Bridewell.

The defendant, Mr Christinus Verwaajji (aged 47), with an address at Julianalaan, Beusichem, in Holland, was charged with simple possession of the cannabis and possession with intent to supply, contrary to the Misuse of Drugs Act.

During the proceedings which were translated by Dutch interpreter, Detective Neil Cameron, of the Garda National Drugs Unit, told Judge Hugh O’Donnell that he arrested the defendant on Thursday night at Store Street garda station.

He said Mr Verwaajji made no reply to one of the counts and said “I understand” to the other. He was then given a true copy of the charge sheets, said Det-Gda Cameron.

Defence solicitor Mr Edward Bradbury told Judge O’Donnell that a bail application was not being made and that he was seeking to have the case put back until next Wednesday, at the Bridewell courthouse.

He told Judge O’Donnell that he was being assisted by Dutch colleagues in relation to the case.

However, Det-Gda Cameron said he was seeing a one-week remand and added that “a number of international inquiries” were being made.

Judge O’Donnell asked why the case should not be remanded to the Cloverhill District Court. Mr Bradbury said that colleagues would be coming from Holland but that he would leave the matter in the court’s hands.

Judge O’Donnell remanded the defendant in custody to appear again on Friday, September 18 next, at Cloverhill District Court.

“I take it there is an application for legal aid?” he said to Mr Bradbury, who replied that he did not have a statement of the defendant’s means.

Judge O’Donnell said there was no possible knowledge of the defendant’s means but certified for an interpreter to translate for Mr Verwaajji on his next court appearance.

Mr Bradbury said that a legal aid application would be made on the next date.

In reply the judge said: “You will need a lot of information on his background. If he can afford a truck he can afford to pay for a lawyer.”

The defendant, who was wearing blue jeans, a blue shirt, and a black jacket, remained silent during his brief court appearance today.

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