A grandfather acting as the "brawn" in a gang who claimed to be dissident republicans and who beat a businessman so severely that he asked to be shot to end his ordeal has been jailed by the Special Criminal Court.
The Special Criminal Court heard that Mayo businessman Edward McAndrew was beaten with iron bars and threatened by a group of men demanding money in Omeath, Co Louth, in 2017. The men told Mr McAndrew that they were members of the Continuity IRA and falsely imprisoned him in the boot of a car.
Mr McAndrew had been lured to Omeath by the gang on the pretence that they had some plant machinery to sell him.
This Tuesday, Anthony Finglas (49) with an address at Havelock Place, Warrenpoint, Co Down, was sentenced by the non-jury court after he pleaded guilty to demanding money with menaces from Mr McAndrew at One Ferry Hill, Cornamucklagh, Omeath, Co Louth, on December 2, 2017.
The offence comes under the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act of 1994 and carries a maximum punishment of 14 years.
A previous hearing heard that at Cornamucklagh, three males, two of whom had iron bars while another brandished a knuckle-duster, attacked Mr McAndrew.
In a statement to gardaí, Mr McAndrew said the men began to "batter" him about the head, body and legs while demanding money.
Mr McAndrew was put into the boot of a Mercedes E-Class and was told that his mother and daughter would never see him again if he did not pay £50K to them in the coming days.
Amid phone calls and emails demanding money in the weeks after the attack, a text message was sent to Mr McAndrew's daughter claiming to be from a friend of Mr McAndrew's called "Barry".
Mr McAndrew downloaded an app to his phone that allowed him to record calls and took a recording of a threatening call to gardaí in Enniscrone, Co Mayo.
The PSNI and gardaí co-operated in a search of Finglas' house in Warrenpoint, where they found Mr McAndrew's phone, which Finglas had been using. Mr McAndrew's phone had a contact list that included the number of his daughter, the court has heard.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt this Tuesday jailed Finglas for four years and nine months for his part in the attack.
Mr Justice Hunt said that Mr McAndrew had asked the men to shoot him "as he wanted it to be all over".
Referring to a victim impact statement, Mr Justice Hunt said Mr McAndrew had stated that the attack had an "unbearable impact" on him and that he was suicidal and in need of counselling.
Mr McAndrew's statement said he did not think he would ever feel safe again, that he cannot sleep and that he feels under constant threat because of the attack which left him with multiple head wounds and needing 13 stitches.
Mr McAndrew, in his statement, said that Finglas had struck him with a "straight shot" to his cheek that left a hole.
Mr Justice Hunt said that Finglas was "the brawn, rather than brains" of the operation and that he was satisfied that Finglas was not a member of the Continuity IRA, which the prosecution was not alleging, he noted
Mr Justice Hunt said that Finglas had 87 previous convictions stretching back to 1985 that included assault, possession of drugs, burglary and malicious damage.
The judge said that Mr McAndrew had been "menaced by a significant act of violence and false imprisonment" for money but that Finglas had shown some restraint. He added that a seven-year headline was appropriate before mitigation.
Mr Justice Hunt said that Finglas entered an early guilty plea, did not organise the enterprise and spoke the only words of comfort at the scene when he said to two other males: "Ease off or you'll kill him."
The judge said that Finglas had participated in a line-up, which included a voice-recognition section, was not difficult to deal with from a garda point of view and that he had honoured his bail for meetings with his legal team.
Giving Finglas credit for his remorse and guilty plea, Mr Justice Hunt lowered the sentence to one of five years and three months before suspending the final six months on condition that Finglas enter a bond to be of good behaviour for two years after his release.
Finglas' sentence was backdated to February 7 of this year, when he was first taken into custody.
At a previous hearing, Detective Sergeant Padraig Boyce told Ms Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, prosecuting, that Mr McAndrew received an email in September 2017 requesting a meeting from a man called "Barry" who claimed to have machinery for sale.
Mr McAndrew travelled from Mayo to attend the meeting, which had been arranged for the Crown Plaza Hotel in Dundalk, Co Louth, on December 2, 2017.
Mr McAndrew arrived in Louth at around 3.30pm on December 2, 2017, when he met a "25-30 year-old" male driving a Seat Toledo.
Two deals were discussed for one piece of machinery purportedly worth €85K and another for €50K, which were to be bought by Mr McAndrew.
Mr McAndrew was to follow the Toledo to the machinery but temporarily lost it but met with the male again, who was now driving a silver Caddy van, which Mr McAndrew got into.
Mr McAndrew was driven to Cornamucklagh, about 200 metres from the Border, said Det Sgt Boyce.
Mr McAndrew later identified Finglas from the line-up parade and recognised his accent from a moment at the scene when Finglas said: "Ease off or you'll kill him".
After two hours in the boot of the car, Mr McAndrew was released and managed to reach his own jeep before driving to hospital.
Mr McAndrew, who was in fear for his life at the time of the hospital visit, told gardaí that he told the doctors that he was in a motorcycle crash.
At that hearing, defending barrister Mr Michael Bowman SC said that his client did not use iron bars and was the male who said "go easy or you'll kill him [Mr McAndrew]" at the scene of the attack.
Counsel said that Finglas was a grandfather who had struggled with crack cocaine in the past and who was anxious to continue with his drug-treatment programme.
Mr Justice Hunt told Mr Bowman "not to push too hard on the grandfather line; he's hardly a candidate for Werther's Original".
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