31/05/2007

Four men remanded over blackmail charges

Four men have appeared in court today charged with an alleged plot to blackmail a Belfast businessman.

They have been charged with demanding £50,000 with menace from a person known as Witness A between May 21 and 30 this year.

James Kearney, 25, of New Barnsley Parade, Stephen Parker, 29, from Westrock Gardens, Eugene McKee, 50, of Woodside Walk, Poleglass all in Belfast, and Paul Braniff, 43, from Windmill View, Ballynahinch, County Down, smiled and acknowledged friends in the public gallery as a Detective Sergeant said he could connect them with the offence.

The men were arrested on Tuesday as part of an ongoing police operation into an alleged blackmail attempt on the businessman.

They have all been remanded in custody to appear again on 28 June.

(JM/SP)

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