Kidnap charge man 'was acting as go-between'

A man accused of kidnapping a teenage traveller and demanding a £100,000 ransom was acting as a go-between to ensure his safe release, a court heard today.

A man accused of kidnapping a teenage traveller and demanding a £100,000 ransom was acting as a go-between to ensure his safe release, a court heard today.

Stephen Dempsey, 40, was among three men charged with snatching 16-year-old Charles Doherty from Mallusk caravan site on the outskirts of Belfast and blackmailing his family.

The youth was released on Saturday after being held hostage for five days.

A lawyer for Dempsey, of Cloverhill Vale, Bangor, Co Down, told the city’s magistrates court that his client had been brought in by the victim’s uncle.

Seamus Leonard said: ‘‘My client is making the case that he facilitated to safe release of the young man and that he thanked my client.’’

Mr Dempsey was accused along with Mark Paul Braniff, 38, of Merrion Park, Belfast; and Gerard Maguire, 42 of Donard View, Ballyhornan in Downpatrick, Co Down; of taking the teenager against his will and demanding £100,000 (€150,000) from his father, Charles Doherty senior.

All three men were remanded in custody until June 28.The victim was taken from his home last Monday and his family ordered to pay the ransom or their son would be killed.

A massive covert surveillance operation was then launched, involving 700 police officers.

It was only after the youth was released on Saturday at Sandyknowes roundabout in Glengormley, Co Antrim, that police swooped, making several arrests.

Police said the ransom had been paid.

The three men appeared in court a day after a 29-year-old man was accused of assisting offenders.

Mr Maguire, who was described as an alcoholic in court, was also accused of assaulting and imprisoning the teenager.

All three men deny the charges.

Detective Sergeant Ken Roy said he believed he could connect them with the charges.

After Maguire’s lawyer told the court his client had been acting under duress, Mr Roy said the accused had made no replies initially.

He added: ‘‘However, after being confronted with the evidence that police had located the area where the hostage had been held throughout his imprisonment, Mr Maguire then said that he had been asked to look after the hostage by masked men.’’

Mr Leonard, appearing for Dempsey and Braniff, claimed both men were acting to ensure the hostage was freed.

He said Dempsey had gone to the home of the victim’s uncle and picked up a package to be delivered.

The accused then went to the Downpatrick area, collected the hostage and took him to Glengormley.

The teenager was dropped off about 200 yards from the uncle’s home, the lawyer said.

’’He (Dempsey) says at all times he acted as a go-between and that he received and made a number of phone calls to facilitate the safe release of the young man.’’

Mr Roy confirmed the claim had been made, but with police investigations still under way he wasn’t prepared to say anything more.

More in this section

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd