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Postmistress played along with her kidnapper to help police catch him, court told

A postmistress told a Belfast court how she was forced to change into her Post Office uniform by a masked gunman as her family were held hostage.

Briege Quinn told the Crown Court that she was then made to drive near to the Kennedy Way Post Office in the middle of the night and sat alone in a car for five and a half hours unaware her family had already freed themselves and raised the alarm.

Judge Corinne Philpott also heard that even though her family were safe, Ms Quinn agreed to a police plan to continue on with the tiger kidnapping to help catch her captors.

The postmistress was giving |evidence at the trial of 39-year-old taxi driver Thomas Edward Michael Shaw from Ladymar Court in the Lower Falls area of Belfast. He denies a total of seven charges, including six of falsely imprisoning Ms Quinn and family, and of blackmailing the postmistress, all on August 23 2005.

The prosecution claim that while Shaw was not involved in the tiger kidnapping he was “party to this plan ... and at the very least he supplied his car knowing it was to be used in these offences”.

The jury of seven women and five men heard that the alarm was raised after Ms Quinn's daughter Geraldine managed to free her hands and untied those of her mother's partner Jim McClafferty and those of his brother and his brother's two sons.

Earlier, Ms Quinn said her partner Jim had dropped her off at their west Belfast home shortly before midnight.

Later on, as she opened her front door, two masked men, one armed, rushed forward and forced their way into the house.

Ms Quinn said she was taken to her daughter Geraldine's bedroom where she was bound with cable ties and masking tape.

One of the men told her she was to go to her Post Office and “clean the Post Office out ... or Geraldine would be hurt”.

Ms Quinn said at one stage she was ordered to put on her Post |Office uniform and was made to put it on while a masked gunman stood guard behind her.

Then at 2am she drove to Andersonstown Park West where she waited alone in the car until 7.30am, when she went to the Post Office. She said when she arrived the Post Office had already been opened by the office administrator and police were waiting.

They asked her if she was prepared to continue and she agreed.

Ms Quinn said police gave her two black bin bags, filled not with money but till receipts, which she put in the back of the car, abandoning it in nearby Glen Parade.

The court heard that a short time later two men drove up in Shaw's car, one of whom lifted the bin bags from the back, all the while being watched by police in an unmarked car.

Police followed the kidnappers to nearby Norfolk Road. However, a bin lorry blocked their way and police lost sight of the car.

They later found it abandoned, and inside police found a number of personal items belonging to Shaw. The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph

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