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Man denies ‘IRA’ blackmail of businessman

A gang claiming to be from the IRA tried to blackmail £12,500 from a businessman known only as Witness A, a court has heard.

Opening the prosecution case, Ciaran Murphy QC claimed west Belfast man John Clarke visited Witness A's business to demand money from him. Clarke, from Ardglen Place, denies a single charge of blackmailing £12,500 from Witness A on dates between September 15-24, 2010.

Two other Belfast men, William Barker (40), from Filbert Drive and Christopher Notorantonio (41), from Avoca Close, have pleaded guilty to the same charge and await sentence. Mr Murphy told the no-jury trial at Belfast Crown Court that Clarke (37) and another man visited Witness A at his work on Wednesday, September 15. They demanded he hand over £8,500 by Friday.

On that day, Mr Murphy said the alleged victim withdrew the cash from his bank and handed it over to two men at a meeting in south Belfast.

In fear of his life, Witness A called the police on September 21 and all calls were recorded, Mr Murphy told the court.

The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph