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Amusement arcade director accused of £3.5m fraud plot pleads not guilty

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Ruairi Owens leaves Craigavon Courthouse.
Photo by Tony Hendron/TPX News

Ruairi Owens leaves Craigavon Courthouse. Photo by Tony Hendron/TPX News

Ruairi Owens leaves Craigavon Courthouse. Photo by Tony Hendron/TPX News

The trial of an amusement arcade director accused of a multi-million pound fraud plot could last up to a month, a court has been told.

Ruari Owens (43) entered not guilty pleas to dozens of charges against him while standing in the dock of Craigavon Crown Court last Tuesday.

The offences are alleged to have happened in snooker clubs and amusement arcades in Drumgor, Craigavon, New Classic and Premier Snooker Clubs in Glengormley, New Central Amusement Arcade and New Central Bookmakers, Church Place, Lurgan, between April 2010 and March 2016.

Owens, from Fortwilliam Demesne in north Belfast, faces 79 allegations of charging a player of a gaming machine an excessive amount and five charges of organising or managing prohibited gaming.

He also faces five charges of possessing criminal property.

Three firms of which he is director are co-accused — NTK Central Properties, NTK Leisure Ltd and Shooter Amusement Centre.

The amount of money involved in the possession of criminal property is alleged to be just over £3,555,000.

NTK Central Properties is accused of possessing £301,000 criminal property while NTK Leisure Ltd, both with addresses at Church Place in Lurgan, is accused of 65 charges of charging a player of a gaming machine an excessive amount, three allegations of managing prohibited gaming and five charges of possession of criminal property.

Shooters Amusement Centre, also of Church Place, faces 14 charges of charging a player of a gaming machine an excessive amount, two of managing prohibited gaming and on allegation of possession of criminal property.

Following the arraignment, when the clerk put a short form of the charges to Owens, a prosecuting lawyer told Judge Patrick Lynch QC the trial “may last three to four weeks”.

Judge Lynch said it was difficult to see it being held before the summer but that June could be the earliest possible date, listing the case for review on April 2.

Belfast Telegraph