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Crime boss is jailed for second tiger kidnap bid

The boss of a notorious Belfast crime gang has been jailed for three years following an attempted tiger kidnapping — a day after he was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for a separate abduction.

Sean Hughes, a former IRA prisoner, was sentenced at Newry Crown Court yesterday after pleading guilty to assault and possession of an offensive weapon.

The 38-year-old assaulted a woman in December 2006 during the foiled kidnapping. He was also caught with a stun gun during the incident at Glebe Road West.

Two charges of attempted false imprisonment and attempted robbery were left on the books.

Hughes — who was jailed for four years in 1990 for manslaughter and for 12 years in 1995 for an IRA bombing — became leader of an organised crime gang following his release from jail under the Good Friday Agreement.

The gang is thought to have been involved in a number of attempted tiger kidnappings and armed robberies in Belfast.

On Wednesday, just 24 hours before he was jailed in connection with the attempted tiger kidnapping, Hughes was sentenced to 11 years in jail alongside two other men for kidnapping the daughter of a Post Office worker in north Belfast in February 2007.

Patrick Smyth (46) from Carrick Hill in north Belfast also received an 11 year jail term while third gang member, Mark Neill (33), of no fixed abode, was jailed for 10 years.

The 19-year-old student was taken hostage by masked men from her own home.

She was held at Smyth's Carrick Hill flat where she was threatened with death unless her mother emptied cash from the safe and drawers at Yorkgate post office.

Her mother was ordered to leave a bag filled with the £46,855 at gates close to Duncairn Parade.

The police had been informed of the kidnapping and had a helicopter and a number of officers were watching the scene.

The three men were arrested and their fingerprints were found on the stolen money, some of which was recovered.

The PSNI has welcomed the jailing of Hughes, Smyth and Neill saying that a “major criminal gang has been taken off the streets”.

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