Belfast Telegraph

Voice analysis ‘may be key to blackmail case’

Voice analysis has been carried out as part of the case against an alleged organised crime gang accused of blackmailing a Belfast businessman, the High Court has heard.

Detectives are also investigating claims that the alleged victim was given £8,500 to put through his bank account and then transfer to someone in Canada.

The disclosure came as one of the suspects was granted bail but banned from contacting his co-|accused or their supposed target.

William Barker (38), of Filbert Drive, Dunmurry, has been charged with blackmailing the businessman, identified as Witness A. It is claimed that he was menaced into handing over more than £11,000 last September.

Prosecutors have alleged that |organised criminals claiming to represent republican paramilitaries threatened to subject him to a punishment shooting if he did not supply the cash.

The businessman is now in a witness protection scheme after co-operating with police, who have charged three men.

Crown counsel Christine Smith said officers swooped after the money was handed over during meetings in the Markets area of Belfast. Defence barrister Joe Brolly claimed that rather than being blackmailed, the alleged victim was being asked to return money which did not belong to him.

Granting bail, Lord Justice Coghlin held that the issues were “at large and very arguable”.

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