A former security adviser to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams wept in court as he recalled being warned he and his “defenceless” family could be murdered by IRA assassins.
He said a caller, using the Provisional's nom de guerre ‘P O'Neill’, left him “completely numbed and shocked” when he was told he and his business partner had been “investigated”.
The recruitment company boss, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said he was instructed to wait for a letter and “follow instructions”.
Four days later — by which time he had contacted police — it arrived. A similar one was delivered to his colleague.
Both bore the Irish for the IRA — Oglaigh na hEireann. It claimed a “prolonged and intensive investigation” had established the men had used the organisation's name for “personal gain” and pocketed £6m.
The former Sinn Fein supporter was told he had abused the “position of trust” he once held.
It warned such behaviour was forbidden under the IRA's constitution, that the punishment for it was “self-explanatory”, and that they ought to be “aware of the consequences”. Finally, it demanded payment of £150,000 within a week, warning if they contacted police “Fort Knox will not be safe for either you or your extended family”.
Asked by prosecutor Mark Heywood what the consequences mentioned might be, the man wept as he replied: “Sir, that these people were going to shoot and kill me, my family and children.”
He told the court the last contact from the alleged blackmailers was on April 1 2008, when he received another call warning: “You had better make f****** delivery.”
In the dock are former IRA prisoners Nick Mullen (61) of Burlington Mews, West Acton, west London, and Ronald McCartney (56), of Ross Road, Belfast.
The court has heard Mullen was jailed for 30 years in June 1990 after being found guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions.
But his conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal nine years later after it was ruled his return to the UK from Zimbabwe had been unlawful.
McCartney was released as part of the Good Friday Agreement after serving 21 years for trying to kill three policemen in Southampton in the 1970s.
Both men deny two counts of conspiracy to blackmail.