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Midlands €8.4m suspected cocaine seizure 'not flour, not baking soda', court told

Tim Gilchrist, 54, and Michal Luczak, 41, appeared before Mullingar District Court via video link.

Image: Garda Press Office

A SEIZURE OF €8.4m of suspected cocaine allegedly flown into the midlands earlier this month is “not flour, not baking soda”, a court heard today.

Garda National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) officers, supported by other units, monitored a Cessna single-engine aircraft landing at Abbeyshrule Aerodrome, Co. Longford, shortly after 6pm on 4 August.

Later that evening, they intercepted two vehicles in the Lough Owel area in Co. Westmeath, recovering 120 kilogrammes of cocaine from one car.

Gardai arrested Tim Gilchrist, 54, of Mavis Bank, Newrath, Waterford and Michal Luczak, 41, with an address at Primrose Avenue, Jigginstown Naas, Co. Kildare.

They appeared again today at Mullingar District Court via video link.

Judge Alan Mitchell heard that gardai needed time to obtain directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) about the trial venue and possible extra charges. In addition, investigating officers had to work with colleagues from other jurisdictions before sending a file to the DPP.

Lawyers for the pair agreed with Judge Mitchell that it was inevitable the case would go forward to the Circuit Court unless it emerged the seizure was not an illegal substance.

Gilchrist’s solicitor Maurice Regan told the court gardai had obtained a certificate of analysis.

Detective Ivor Scully confirmed to the judge the substance was not sugar, adding, “no, it is not flour, not backing soda”.

Gilchrist is accused of possessing cocaine for sale or supply at Lough Owel, Irishtown, Co. Westmeath, while father of two, Luczak, is charged with the same offences at the Abbeyshrule Aerodrome on 4 August.

Gilchrist made no application for bail; however, his co-accused was denied bail earlier by the district court following garda objections on flight risk grounds.

Niall Flynn BL told the court today that his client, Luczak, “maintains his innocence” and is due to make a High Court bail application next week.

Luczak, a former law student, was anxious to have his trial heard as soon as possible, he added.

Judge Mitchell remanded them in continuing custody to appear again on 8 September for directions from the DPP.

During a bail hearing on 7 August, the seizure was described in court as a “massive loss” to a criminal group.

The court has heard Luczak moved to Ireland 17 years ago to find work and had bought a one-sixth share in the Cessna.

The aircraft was allegedly flown to France on 3 August and returned the following day.

Detective Garda Liam Mangan had said Gilchrist “made no reply to charge”.

Luczak also made no reply to his charges, but his lawyer said his client had protested his innocence. The defence disputed garda evidence of his lack of ties to Ireland; his lawyer said Luczak was married with two children here, and gardai had seized his passport.

About the author:

Tom Tuite

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