Central Criminal Court
A man was allegedly lured to a Louth farmhouse, assaulted with iron bars and placed in the boot of a car before £50,000 was demanded from him, the Special Criminal Court has heard.
It's also alleged that the man's daughter was contacted and his home was set on fire, the court heard.
Two men charged with attacking and falsely imprisoning Edward McAndrew at One Ferry Hill, Cornamucklagh, Omeath, Co Louth on or about December 2nd, 2017, appeared before the court this morning [Tuesday] for a bail hearing.
They're also charged with robbing Mr McAndrew of several items, including two mobile phones and a passport.
William Twomey (56), from Havelock Place, Warrenpoint, Co Down and Anthony Finglas (49), also of Havelock Place, have been in custody since they were arrested separately last week.
In court last week, State solicitor Michael O'Donovan indicated that the State would likely object to their bail applications. In particular, he stated that the prosecution wished to ascertain the means of Mr Twomey as gardai “believe this is a man of very substantial means”. Mr O'Donovan said they wished to access Mr Twomey's bank statements and get an understanding of his assets.
This morning Caroline Cummings BL, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the prosecution had "received nothing" about finances from either of the men.
She said she understood Mr Finglas was seeking to adjourn the matter for a number of days, by which time his financial information would be provided. She said the prosecution would consent to this.
However, in relation to Mr Twomey, Ms Cummings said he had been in "complete default" of providing the prosecution with information about his income, his assets or his occupation. Ms Cummings said the prosecution is "anxious" to accommodate Mr Twomey's move to have his bail application heard as soon as possible but she said the prosecution needs the information about his finances.
Mr Justice Paul Coffey asked Ms Cummings if she believed "a failure to comply with the [Bail] Act and to furnish that information is an impediment to the matter proceeding at all?" and she answered, "Yes, I do."
The barrister said the offences which the court are concerned with are of an "intimidatory kind". She said it's alleged that Mr McAndrew was lured to a farmhouse and assaulted with iron bars before he was placed in the boot of a car "for period of time". She said he was allegedly later taken out of the boot and told to pay £50,000.
Ms Cummings added it's alleged that contact was later made with Mr McAndrew via email, during which the demand for the money was repeated, and that his daughter was also contacted with a message that included the words "warmest greetings" and the name "Barry".
Ms Cummings said that on the evening Mr McAndrew's daughter was contacted, Mr McAndrew's home was allegedly damaged by a fire.
She said given the "seriousness of the offences" it was "incumbent" on the court to have the relevant financial information pertaining to the two men.
Bernard Condon SC, for Mr Twomey, told the court that despite efforts by his solicitor, the Irish Prison Service has failed to facilitate a meeting between Mr Twomey and his solicitor or counsel since he was placed in custody last week.
"That is not Mr Twomey's fault. He wishes to move his application [for bail] and I wish to do so on his part," Mr Condon said, before adding that his junior counsel was only able to take "unsatisfactory" limited instructions from Mr Twomey while he was in the "cells" of the Criminal Courts of Justice before this morning's hearing.
Mr Condon also argued that the prosecution's move to access Mr Twomey's "financial details" is a case of the prosecution putting "the cart before the horse" and claimed it was a "fishing" exercise by the prosecution. He also claimed the prosecution was attempting to use the Bail Act as an "investigatory tool" and he said this was "not appropriate". He added that he believes the seeking of a "forensic report on the accused" is not "proper use" of the Bail Act.
He argued against Mr Twomey being remanded further "for the convenience of the State".
Ms Cummings said the information was being sought in order for the prosecution to assess whether Mr Twomey is a flight risk. She said such a request is provided for in the Bail Act. The barrister also rejected Mr Condon's assertion that the Bail Act was being used as an "investigatory tool". She said the information obtained "can only be used for the purpose of that act [Bail Act] and no other purpose".
Mr Justice Coffey said: "It seems to the court that the obligation under scrutiny is in fact a mandatory obligation and that, in those circumstances, it is an obligation that should be complied with."
He added that the information sought will "not result" in any trial prejudice as the material furnished "cannot be used against him in that trial...it can only be used in relation to the bail application".
The men were remanded in custody and will appear again next Tuesday at 10.30am.