£50k extortion attempt over city company

Published Thursday, 22 November 2012
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A south Armagh businessman was told he would have to pay £50,000 to continue operating in a loyalist part of Belfast, the High Court has heard.

£50k extortion attempt over city company
The alleged victim received phone calls from a blocked number in August. (© UTV)

Prosecutors claimed he was warned that he would be left with no family and no home if cash demands were not met.

Menacing phone calls to the alleged victim were said to have included information on cars he owned and his trips to a casino.

Details emerged on Thursday during a bail application by a man accused of involvement in the suspected extortion attempt.

David McAdams, 34, of Sandy Hill, Bessbrook, Co Down is charged with blackmail and possession of a stun-gun.

The alleged victim, who owns a business on Belfast's Crumlin Road, received a number of calls from a blocked number in August.

Prosecution barrister Fiona O'Kane said the caller described his knowledge of the businessman, a supposed republican from south Armagh, trading in a loyalist area of the city.

"He mentioned his wife's name, the name of the injured party's two daughters and gave details of the injured party's home address," she told the court.

"He was able to give details of the vehicles the injured party owned and his socialising, such as that he went to a casino.

"The male caller then asked for £50,000. Apparently the threat was in a way that 'If you want to continue working in north Belfast you will pay this money'."

Reduced demands for two payments of £7,000 were made when he said he could not afford the first amount, it was claimed.

Police were alerted following further calls to try to arrange a location to make the payments, according to the prosecution.

Setting out the alleged threats made to the businessman, Mrs O'Kane told the court: "If he didn't pay, he would soon have no family and no residence."

CCTV footage links McAdams to the purchase of a mobile phone and top-up cards bought to make the calls, she claimed.

A stun-gun was found in the accused's car when he was arrested on 30 August, the court heard.

He denies any involvement in blackmail and claimed to have bought the top-ups for others.

McAdams told police he was given the stun-gun the year before, believing it to be a mobile-phone.

A haulage boss also gave evidence that a driving job was on offer to the accused in a bid to secure bail.

But Lord Justice Coghlin instead adjourned the case for it to be referred back to another judge who previously heard details of the allegations.

© UTV News
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