A man alleged to be the UDA “sergeant major” of Carrickfergus has been jailed for a total of six and a half years for involvement in the £10,000 blackmail of a drug dealer and possession of a gun.
George Kennedy, from The Hollies, Carrickfergus, who still maintains his innocence, claimed he’d gone to the victim’s home as a friend, and in reality was nothing more than “a mere messenger”.
However, at Belfast Crown Court, Judge McReynolds said Kennedy was more than a messenger, although he was not trusted enough “to be a money collector”.
The 42-year-old, alleged by his victim to be the local UDA sergeant major, was caught in a police sting operation in January along with a second Carrick man, 43-year-old Colville Hogsett, of Maple Gardens, who was alleged to be the UDA commander in the seaside town.
Hogsett was jailed for five years in June because of his guilty plea to the blackmail plot, which began in December 2006.
Kennedy was also jailed for five years, but was given an additional 18 months yesterday for possessing an 8mm pistol and five rounds of ammunition, which were uncovered in the hotpress of his flat.
Defence lawyer Peter Irvine said Kennedy “simply wants to be left alone and serve out his sentence”.
Kennedy, who’d been taped reassuring the victim he’d be safe if the money was paid, was arrested at his flat after the money, supplied by police, was given to Hogsett in his home.
The court had heard that when police stormed Hogsett’s home after the victim — who cannot be named for legal reasons — handed over the blackmail money, he threw it in the fire.
The court had heard that Kennedy and another man had gone to the home of the victim on December 4, 2006, and after accusing him of drug dealing, ordered him to pay £10,000 or leave the country.
The victim initially fled to England but on his return finally went to police after learning “he was going to receive a severe beating even if he had paid the money”.
Eventually, on January 4 last year, police supplied the victim with £10,000 in cash and were on hand as he took it to Hogsett’s home.