OAPs lived the high life with kidnap gang’s stash, court is told
Pensioners may have gone on a spending spree after realising they were holding up to £100,000 from a tiger kidnapping in Belfast, the High Court has heard.
One of them left Northern Ireland as dissident republicans suspected of carrying out the heist twice searched his home in a bid to locate him, prosecutors said.
Gerry McGlade (66) faces a charge of handling stolen goods amid suggestions that he allegedly “scammed the scammers”.
McGlade, with a previous address at Sliabh Dubh View, Belfast, is accused of having cash stolen from an Asda supermarket in west Belfast.
A family was held hostage overnight last November while a female member of staff was forced to go into work and hand over £100,000. Police believe dissident republicans carried out the heist.
McGlade's alleged connection emerged in January when he phoned police while staying with a relative in England.
Fiona O'Kane, prosecuting, said he was interviewed and gave a statement denying terrorist links but claiming to be in fear for his life. She alleged that he accepted having spent tens of thousands of pounds.
Although another £28,000 had been lodged in his bank account, only £15,000 was left in it when it was frozen by police, the court heard.
It was claimed that McGlade bought flight tickets as part of a “dissipation” of the money. She added that he is believed to be under threat from dissidents.
Joe Brolly, defending, declined to go into a full version of his client's account for legal reasons. But he told the court the prosecution case was that the cash had been left with McGlade while “the trail was hot”.
Mr Brolly said it was alleged that his client and three other elderly friends then checked the contents of the money bag.
“I understand that's the theory that's being worked on, that this was a spree by a number of elderly men,” he told the court.
The judge asked him: “They scammed the scammers?”
Mr Brolly replied: “What police believe is... when the bag was opened a flutter was taken. He (McGlade) wasn't the only one. He took some of his elderly mates.
“The suggestion was made that there was a short period of the high life and then a phone call to police (saying) ‘I don't feel so good’.
“If the prosecution case is right a bag was left with him to hold. It basically fell out of the blue skies.” The court also heard how McGlade has suffered mental health problems since being injured in a bombing in the 1970s.
Granted bail to live at an agreed location, Mr Justice McLaughlin ordered McGlade to surrender his passport and banned him from leaving Northern Ireland.