One of Ulster's most notorious conmen has been robbed of thousands of pounds and a luxury car by an armed gang which broke into his home and held his son at gunpoint, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal today.
Just weeks after Antrim businessman Dennis Clarke was forced to hand over £500,000 to the PSNI under the proceeds of Crime Act - following a conviction of money laundering - two gunmen broke into his home and stole £25,000 and his luxury Range Rover.
It is understood Clarke was in Spain on business at the time of the burglary, but the gang held his 29-year-old son and his son's 20-year-old girlfriend at gunpoint and ordered them to hand over the cash and car keys. They then tied their victims up.
The men had gained access to the Dublin Road house several hours before Clarke's son arrived.
According to sources, his son was left badly shaken by the burglary which occurred in the early hours of Friday morning.
A police spokeswoman said that detectives in Antrim are appealing for information following an armed robbery at a house in the Dublin Road area.
She added: "At around 12:30am on November 23, two masked men armed with sawn-off shotguns entered the house. The homeowner's son (29) and his girlfriend (20) were tied up and the culprits demanded money. They then ransacked the house before leaving in the homeowner's Range Rover with a substantial amount of cash. The victims were not physically injured but were left shaken by their ordeal."
She said that detectives are appealing to anyone who was in the area at the time and witnessed any suspicious activity to contact them and that they are particularly keen to speak to anyone who may have seen the Range Rover, vehicle registration number UKZ 2814.
Clarke recently found himself at the centre of an exhaustive PSNI probe into a £2m fraud involving Belfast-based aerospace company Shorts.
The 48-year-old received a two-year suspended jail sentence earlier this year for money laundering after he was caught transferring hundreds of thousands of pounds of cash - gained in Canada - into the bank account of elderly relatives back home in Antrim. It is understood Clarke used laundered money to purchase several properties across Northern Ireland and Spain.
It was claimed in court at the time that the laundered money had been swindled from Belfast plane makers Shorts after Clarke doctored time sheets for unsuspecting contractors who were doing work for Shorts at the company at their plant in Montreal.
Clarke denied this and a charge of defrauding the aerospace company was not proceeded with by the court but was left on the books.
The senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Sam Sittlington, recently told the Belfast Telegraph that while police believed Clarke had benefited from £1m to £2m, he only had half a million pounds assets left and that was handed over to the PSNI. A total of £150,000 of that was then handed over to Shorts in compensation.