Real IRA

Real IRA
Dissident republicans

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Dissident republicans, belfast convictions

William Barker, 40, from Filbert Drive, and Christopher Notorantonio, 41, from Avoca Close, were led away to begin their three and a half and two and a half years terms respectively.

However, John Clarke, 37, walked free from Belfast Crown Court on time served.

His Honour Judge Kinney handed Clarke, from Ardglen Place, a year in jail but like his co-accused, ordered that he spend half in jail and half on supervised licence.

On being told he has already served six months on remand, the judge said that Clarke was free to go.

Last month their trial was halted after Barker and Notorantonio pleaded guilty to blackmailing £12,500 from a businessman known only as witness A on dates between 15 - 24 September 2010.

Clarke pleaded guilty to assisting offenders.

Jailing the trio, Judge Kinney said while every extortion crime was different, a "common thread" was that perpetrators of this "ugly crime will usually seek out vulnerable people as their victims."

The trial had heard how Clarke and Barker went to Witness A's place of work and demanded that he hand over £8,500 as the pair knew he had been involved with a man who had been shot in the legs three days earlier.

Giving his testimony from behind a screen, Witness A recounted how he withdrew the cash from his account and handed it over - but that a demand for a further £4,000 was issued at the time with the gang, which claimed to be from the IRA, warning him that the press was "jumping at the bit for a story".

The matter was reported to the police the following week and when arrangements were made for the handover of the further cash, police swooped and arrested Barker and Notorantonio, recovering an envelope stuffed with cash from the glove box of the Vauxhall Vectra car they were in.
On Thursday, Judge Kinney said Clarke had pleaded guilty on the basis that he did not "immediately remove or distance himself" from the extortion plot.

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