Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Ex-prisoner’s fight for £400,000 payout

A former loyalist prisoner whose taxi business was destroyed by paramilitaries wanted up to £400,000 in compensation, the High Court has heard.

Lawyers for Jackie Mahood told how he ran the most successful depot in north Belfast before his drivers received death threats and 24 cars were attacked.

It was claimed that Mr Mahood, who helped broker an end to a |violent loyalist feud, was targeted by paramilitary gangs attempting to “muscle in” on his firm.

Barrister Dessie Hutton said the father of three has now lost everything.

“He built up a business over 20 years. It was very successful, turning a profit of around £70,000 a year,” Mr Hutton said.

“Now he’s effectively on benefits. He has to live off the proceeds of a house sale and the family’s future is very bleak.”

Mr Mahood is seeking to judicially review a refusal by the Secretary of State to make a discre- tionary payment under a criminal damage compensation scheme.

He was turned down due to the serious terrorist offences for which he was convicted in the mid-1970s, the court was told.

Mr Mahood was jailed for 15 years for possession of a firearm and wounding with intent following a gun attack on a pub.

But his lawyers described how he had turned his life around since being released, becoming involved in the Loyalist Commission, which negotiated a truce |between paramilitary factions.

In recent years, however, his Call-A-Cab firm has come under repeated attack, the court heard.

It was claimed that drivers were warned they would be shot dead as part of a campaign to wreck the business. Other firms in the area with alleged paramilitary connections simply could not compete with Mr Mahood’s success and wanted a “bigger slice of the cake”, according to court submissions.

Mr Hutton argued: “By refusing him compensation and by continuing the status quo where he is out of business the paramilitaries effectively get what they want in north Belfast.”

Judgment in the application for leave to apply for a judicial review was reserved until next week.

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