UDA duo behind protection racket 'pair of chancers'
Two Belfast men who admitted involvement in a loyalist paramilitary blackmailing plot were remanded in custody by a judge.
David Moore (34) and David Pollins (32) appeared in Belfast Crown Court on charges linked to a UDA protection racket.
Moore, from Monarch Parade, and Pollins, from Lower Rockview Street, admitted a charge of professing to belong to the UDA on dates between June 2013 and September 2014.
They also admitted a blackmailing charge, namely making an unwarranted demand of £1,000 from 'Witness A' - a businesswoman - with menaces.
A prosecutor said Witness A reported the threat to police after it emerged that workers at a building site in south Belfast had been approached by two men at the end of March 2013.
The pair claimed they were from the loyalist Village area of the city and initially said they were looking for scrap metal, adding they were "someone in authority".
Telephone numbers were exchanged between the pair and Witness A, who contacted the PSNI straight away.
A surveillance operation was launched, and over the course of the operation Moore and Pollins, and Witness A, spoke on the phone, sent text messages and also had several face-to-face meetings.
During one of these conversations Witness A was told that if she paid protection money there would be "no bother" from anyone else.
Cash was handed over on several occasions, and the pair were arrested on Boucher Road on the day a payment of £250 was made.
Michael Boyd, defence barrister for Moore, said the father-of-three had "spent a lengthy period of time on remand in relation to these matters".
He described Moore and his co-accused as a "couple of chancers trying their luck" by attempting to make extra money from the sale of scrap metal.
Defence barrister Richard McConkey told the court that Pollins had spent 15 months in custody and during that period his mother had died.
He said "this enterprise was amateurish in the extreme", citing the fact Pollins had given his own name and mobile number to Witness A.
The barrister said "the enterprise started out as an attempt to source scrap metal and the sums of money in this case were very small".
He added that there were "no actual violence or threats of violence in this case".
Judge Gordon Kerr QC remanded the two defendants in custody and said he would sentence them next week.