Former massage parlour owner claims he was severely beaten

THE former owner of two massage parlours claimed yesterday he was dragged from his bedroom and severely beaten and his family were threatened in the name of the IRA to get him to make cash payments of up to 12,700.

John O’Connor yesterday told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that masked men broke into his home in Togher in Cork city; a pistol was pointed at him in a supermarket car park, and he was beaten up at his home in Macroom. Edward Buckley of Manor Hill, Ballincollig, Co Cork, and now of Park Road, Muskerry Estate, Ballincollig, is accused of demanding £4,000 with menaces from Mr O’Connor in the name of the IRA between April and June 1999, demanding £10,000 while threatening to harm Mr O’Connor’s children, assault causing harm to Mr O’Connor on February 5, 2000, possession of cocaine at Togher Road on October 31, 1999, robbing Catherine Deasy of £10,000 at Grenville, Lissarda, Macroom, Co Cork, on February 5 and possession of a shotgun with intent to demand money with menaces at Grenville, on February 5. Buckley denies all six counts.

Mr O’Connor denied a suggestion by Tom Creed, for the defence, that he had a tape of a man having sex with one of his (Mr O’Connor’s) employees, “a prostitute,” and the video was for the purpose of blackmail. Mr O’Connor replied: “If that was correct, I am sure the guards would be on to me.”

Mr O’Connor said that at one time he did have a massage parlour on Little Hanover Street in Cork and another off Coburg Street, each employing three masseuses.

In his direct evidence, Mr O’Connor said that at around midnight on a night in April 1999 he was getting ready for bed at his home on Hazel Road, Togher, Cork. “I heard voices from downstairs. I saw two balaclava characters coming upstairs shouting ‘get him, get the bastard,’” he said yesterday.

He said he was holding back the door as they tried to force it in for about five minutes and the handle broke and he was locked into the room. He thought they might have had a gun, so he shouted out that he had a gun in the room and the men ran off.

Minutes later he got the first of many phone calls saying he was dealing with the IRA and to bring £10,000 to the car park of the Viaduct Inn. He was told he was going to be shot and his partner and his children (from a previous marriage) were going to be “got.” Mr O’Connor said he had known Edward Buckley for five or six weeks as he was going to buy a second-hand car for him. He rang him for help and he said Buckley arrived at the house. “He acted as if he was as frightened as I was,” Mr O’Connor said. He was in fear and he went to Dublin with his partner, Catherine Deasy. He said Buckley told him that the demands were then being made for a sum of £4,000 and that he (Buckley) would pay it if Mr O’Connor would pay him back.

“£4,000 seemed more reasonable. I just wanted that problem solved. I agreed to pay it and I did pay him (Buckley) when I got back to Cork,” Mr O’Connor said.

In October 1999 he and Ms Deasy returned to Hazel Road, but the threatening and demanding phone calls resumed. He contacted Buckley and said he was getting on to the gardaí. He said Buckley asked to meet him at the car park of SuperValu in Togher. He sat into Buckley’s car. He said a blue Fiesta pulled up and someone pointed a pistol in their direction from the passenger window. He and Buckley left separately. “I got a call from Edward Buckley, he told me to check behind my driver’s seat of my car. I found a packet of white powder. He said it was drugs. If I did not bring the powder and £10,000, the guards would be phoned and they would be told where to get another box of it (cocaine),” Mr O’Connor said.

He said he was in turmoil when he got this call from Buckley. Ultimately he went to the gardaí. At around the start of 2000, in his house outside Macroom, men broke in and Ms Deasy had to get out an upstairs window. Mr O’Connor said he was dragged out of the room by the ankles and severely beaten. The case continues today.

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