Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Alleged blackmail victim under guard

A blackmail victim who was allegedly frightened into handing over more than £11,000 is on a witness protection scheme, the High Court heard yesterday.

The man, who has not been identified, supplied the cash in two instalments after being threatened with a punishment shooting, prosecutors said.

It was also disclosed that police photographed serial numbers on some of the bank notes handed over at meetings in Belfast.

Two men have each been charged with two counts of blackmail against the victim, known only as ‘Witness A’, last month.

One of them, Christopher Notarantonio (39), of Avoca Close, Belfast, is suspected of being the head of a crime gang in the city.

He was refused bail due to the risk of interference with the investigation and potential re-offending.

After handing over his second cash instalment, the victim then handed over the bank notes which had been photographed by police.

The court heard Notarantonio was arrested in a car minutes later. His co-accused was detained with him. Prosecutors said the money was found in the glove box.

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