Four men have appeared in court after police mounted an undercover operation linked to alleged loyalist paramilitary threats against an assault victim.
A detective claimed the man was told a UDA commander in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, would guarantee his safety if he withdrew evidence against the suspected attacker.
Following a six-month covert investigation it was also alleged that an offer was made to provide up to seven witnesses who would give statements with alternative descriptions of the assailant.
The victim was told this would ensure he still got compensation while the man accused of assaulting him would walk free, Belfast Magistrates Court heard.
Details emerged as Carrickfergus men Colin Davison (29), John Armstrong (35), Robert Stewart (33) and Thompson Gilmore (38) all appeared charged with perverting the course of justice.
Mr Davison, from Broadlands Park, and Mr Gilmore, of Castlemara Drive, were remanded in custody to appear in court again next
Mr Armstrong, of Taylor’s Avenue, and Mr Stewart, from Brackenridge, were both released on continuing bail to attend on the same date.
At one stage during the hearing trouble flared in the public gallery where rival factions shouted accusations and squared up to each other.
One man was ejected by police.
A detective constable who said he could connect each defendant with the charge told the court the case involved threats being issued to a man assaulted in the town last year.
An investigation was launched in May when the victim informed police of a warning he would come to harm unless he retracted a statement naming Mr Davison as the man who assaulted him, it was claimed.