Nervous driver alerts Dungannon cops to drugs stash

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Dungannon police have sniffed out a nervous driver during a routine vehicle stop, netting four bags of illegal drugs. 41-year-old Michael Coulter appeared at Dungannon Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, where he was fined for charges of possessing drugs.

He was stopped by police at Beechvalley in Dungannon on February 21 at 7.50pm, telling officers that he had been visiting his wife, who lived nearby.

However, officers were alerted by Coulter’s nervous manner. As they searched the vehicle, they noticed the defendant removing three bags of white powder from his jacket pocket.

In a subsequent search of his home at Ajax Court, Ballymena, police found another bag of white powder in a kitchen cupboard.

The drugs turned out to be 4.5 grams of methadrone with a street value of £135.

The court was told Coulter had a criminal record stretching back twenty years, involving dishonesty, public order and driving offences.

However, apart from a caution in 2009 for drug possession, this was his first court appearance for this type of offence.

According to his solicitor, Coulter had expressed deep regret, shame and remorse for the offences, and showed insight into his behaviour.

The court also heard that Coulter is in receipt of high-rate DLA, and suffers from arthritis and bulging discs in his back.

District Judge John Meehan told the defendant he was taking on board the findings of a pre-sentence report which concluded that Coulter was a heavy, daily cannabis user, and had also tackled an alcohol dependency in the past.

As this was the first time in court on a drugs offence, the judge said he was going to punish him with a monetary fine rather than imprisonment.

“You have given an awful lot of excuses”, the judge told Coulter. “In the future you can expect a custodial sentence if you appear in court again.” The judge fined him £300.