Belfast Telegraph

Suspect accused of blackmail denied bail

By Alan Erwin

A plot to menace a farming couple into paying out £5,000 involved "a total lack of intelligence", the High Court has heard.

A judge was told phone calls demanding the cash were made from unscreened numbers and using a SIM card allegedly bought openly by the main suspect.

Details emerged as Christopher Carton was refused bail on two charges of blackmail between last November and January.

The 21-year-old, of Lettershendony Avenue in Drumahoe, Co Derry, was arrested after police seized phone receipts from his car.

He allegedly first phoned the farmer on November 25 to accuse him of handling stolen livestock and telling him he had to leave £5,000 at Kilrea market.

The victim insisted he knew nothing about animal thefts and had no intention of paying any money, the court heard.

But a series of further calls from unblocked numbers repeated the cash demands. When the victim continued to refuse, the caller allegedly warned: "You will be hearing from us."

Despite claims that Carton should be released because of the likely delay in any trial, the judge refused bail. He said: "There is a well-developed concern he would interfere with the ongoing police investigation into this serious crime."

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