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‘One-stop shop’ loan shark jailed


Thomas James Porter

Thomas James Porter

Thomas James Porter

This is the man behind a loyalist paramilitary-linked `one stop shop’ for loans and drugs.

Thomas James Porter was using age old tactics of high interest money lending to vulnerable and desperate victims.

And if they couldn’t meet his repayment demands – a whopping 40% interest would be lumped on.

The 46-year-old was also selling his debt-ridden customers cannabis.

Originally from the Shankill, but now with an address in Knockleigh Drive in Greenisland, he has now been handed an 18-month sentence. Half of that is to be spent behind bars, the rest on licence.

Porter’s period of offending covers just over a year – from January 2016 until the end of May 2017.

The judge told Porter his `one stop shop’ preyed upon the vulnerable in society.

 “There’s an underlying relation between the accruing of drug debt and the accrued loan sharking…one can see how there was a synergy between the illegal operations,’’ said the judge.

Porter was originally scooped by Paramilitary Crime Task Force in 2017 as part of an investigation into the West Belfast UDA.

When they raised his house they seized a ledger containing names and highlighted figures and amounts.

Drug debts were in green, loans were in blue. The high rate of interest he charged on amounts ranged from just a few pounds up to thousands.

And if the borrower missed a payment, there was a threat of violence.

“He is purporting to be a front for more sinister figures and the threat is that these figures are not to be trifled with,” said Judge Rafferty adding that his “significant convictions” are an indication of paramilitary involvement

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