Lawyers for James Gantley said he had been asked to be “spokesperson” in demanding money from DX Ireland, a delivery firm, because of his experience in theatre.
Gantley, aged 62, of Sundrive Rd, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to demanding money with menaces from DX staff between October 11 and November 11, 2011.
He has 10 previous convictions, including robbery and aggravated burglary, but has not been on the garda radar since 1993.
Garda Colleen Doherty revealed that a DX van containing bags of legal documents had been stolen on October 5, 2011. She said Gantley phoned DX five days later and claimed the people responsible for stealing the documents, which included Nama files, would burn them if the firm did not hand over money.
Gantley, who called himself ‘Frank’ on the phone, said the thieves wanted €1,000 for each bag which would total €100,000.
He called two more DX staff members and managing director Kevin Galligan on different dates to demand money in return for the stolen documents.
Judge Martin Nolan imposed a five-year sentence, suspended in full and said that it was “a close run thing” but it would be unjust to impose an immediate custodial sentence.
Garda Doherty told Kerida Naidoo, prosecuting, that three of the stolen document bags were posted to DX when Mr Galligan asked Gantley for proof that his associates had them.
Mr Galligan recorded his phone call, in which Gantley tried to haggle the amount of money demanded between €100,000 and €50,000. Gardai used this recorded phone call to eventually trace Gantley and arrest him weeks later.
Shane Costelloe, defending, submitted to Judge Nolan that his client had written “positively notorious” plays in the 90s.