Application for Anonymity granted in major Operation Venetic encrypted communications drug importation case

Ciarán Shiels of Madden & Finucane is representing a man who appeared in custody accused of major drug offences at Derry District Judges Court. The case is believed to be one of a number arising from the National Crime Agency’s Operation Venetic. Judge Ted Magill agreed that given the threat said to be made in relation to the defendant that this was a case in which an order for anonymity should be granted. The evidence against the accused relates to intercepts allegedly obtained from the ENCROCHAT platform from March to June 2020.

A Derry man has been granted anonymity after a solicitor told the local Magistrate’s Court that republican paramilitaries have threatened to ‘execute him on sight’.

The defendant who, because of the anonymity order is known on court papers as R P, is charged with being concerned in the supply of Class A drug cocaine and conspiracy to possess cocaine and Class B drug cannabis with intent to supply.

He is further charged with being concerned in the supply of cannabis, conspiracy to fraudulently import cocaine and entering into an arrangement to acquire criminal property.

All offences are alleged to have taken place between March 25 and June 15, 2020.

Defence solicitor Ciaran Shiels said police evidence is based solely on encrypted conversations.

The court heard that is it linked to a major police operation which took place between March and June.

Mr Shiels asked the judge to grant anonymity in relation to his name and address as there is a ‘specific, direct and active’ threat against him by republican paramilitaries in the city.

The threat was said to explicitly state that the man will be ‘executed on sight at a time of their choosing regardless of who is with him’.

This threat was confirmed by the PSNI and social services last week.

Social services have refused to meet with the man directly because of the nature of the threat.

A police officer said she was unsure of the exact nature of the threat but accepted that one was in place.

The accused was remanded in custody to appear in court remotely on August 2020.

Derry Now

ENCROCHAT platform: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EncroChat