A 31-year-old man brought a builder from Dublin who owed him money to a property in mid-Louth, where two masked men demanded payment in kind, Dundalk Circuit Court has heard.
Judge Michael O’Shea was told at the sentencing hearing last Friday that, when he was interviewed by gardai, Mark Finnegan – otherwise known as Michael Kearney, of Cuillenstown, Readypenny, denied that he had lured the victim to the address and said he himself was under duress.
The victim in the case - who at the time had owed the accused €6,000 for livestock since 2006 - told gardai the defendant claimed there was a woman in Louth Village interested in having him do building work for her, and he had met Mark Finnegan in Ardee, who drove him to the property at Ballyoran on the night of June 30th 2011.
Inside, two men, wearing black berets and dark coloured scarves over their faces, were sitting in a room.
They told the victim he owned the accused money, and after he agreed that he did, one punched him in the chest.
When he asked “What’s this?” he was told “This is it now” and they said they knew he didn’t have any money but they wanted his jeep by the next day.
The smaller of the two men pushed what looked like a gun into his side and said “Next time you’ll be getting this”, and the pair claimed they knew where he lived.
The two took the victim’s phone and the keys to his Mercedes, and told him to wait there for half an hour.
Mark Finnegan then drove him to a pub in Killiney in Dublin, and this journey was captured along the route on CCTV.
The court heard the Mercedes was recovered five months later when a man, unconnected to the accused, tried to import it into the North in Newry.
Mark Finnegan had 55 previous convictions, the most recent from the previous week for blackmail/extortion for which he was jailed for 18 months by Monaghan Circuit Court, in addition to animal cruelty and obstruction authorised officers.
The Defence barrister, in addition to failing to make repayments for a loan of a quarter of a million euro for farm machinery, said he had got into difficulty with other persons, and she said the offending was not for personal gain but "to feed starving cattle".
She added he had made a catastrophic mistake which he deeply regrests and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress and suffers from panic attacks.
The court heard €10,000 was available to show his contrition and he has not been in trouble since 2012.
The barrister said the accused was himself owed over €300,000 for machinery which was never paid.
Judge Michael O’Shea, who said he could only conclude the two men were in the house at Mark Finnegan’s request, sentenced him to five years with the last three year suspended for false imprisonment.