Published Monday, 23 April 2012
One of three men arrive at court charged with involvement in terrorist activity. (© Pacemaker)
In the dock at Newry Magistrates on Monday were Belfast men Damian Justin Morgan, 43, of Vicinage Park, Michael Lawrence Smith, 33, of Ardmonagh Gardens, and Patrick McCrory, 54, of Mountpottinger Road.
All three were linked by the investigating officer to charges of belonging to the INLA, blackmail and making a threat to kill.
The court heard that the charges relate to an incident on 21 April, when a woman made a 999 call reporting that her husband had been blackmailed and threatened.
According to a statement later recorded by the woman, who the court ordered cannot be named to protect her and her husband, men claiming to be from the INLA called at her home and said her husband would be killed if a ransom of £35,000 was not handed over by the following day.
When the men left the woman said she followed them and passed on the registration number of their vehicle to police.
A car was later stopped on the Dublin Road and its three occupants - Smith, McCrory and Morgan - were arrested. The addresses of all three were then searched.
Police seized computers, laptops and "a vast amount" of mobile phones, as well as a jacket containing £4,000 from Morgan's address.
Bail applications were forwarded on behalf of both McCrory and Smith but not Morgan who, the court was told, is already on licence from Maghaberry until 2016.
Objecting to bail, the investigating officer told the court police believe both men would be likely to commit further offences. Objections were also raised on the grounds that there would likely be interference with witnesses and a likelihood of absconding.
Both men's defence pointed out that the case against all three is built on hearsay evidence alone and that no statement had yet been offered by the complainant's husband.
District Judge Eamonn King said none of the defendants are suitable candidates for bail, describing the allegations as extremely serious.
He added: "It is refused on the grounds that there exists a very real fear of further offending and a very substantial fear of interference with witnesses."
The three men were remanded to Maghaberry and will reappear at the court on 9 May.