Restaurant owner was threatened by 'IRA men'

4 June 2010

Paul Higgins
Three accused of weapons plot

Two men claiming to be IRA members ordered a woman to hand over deeds to a restaurant in Portugal or she'd "get it," a court heard yesterday.

Therese Murphy was giving evidence at the Belfast Crown Court trial of three men accused of a gun smuggling plot The witness said she and her ex partner Owen McNamee had run the restaurant after it was bought by defendant, 41-year-old Dermot Declan Gregory, aka Michael Dermot, from Crossmaglen, Co Tyrone.

She told the court that two men called at her Newry home in June 2005 and told her "we are from the IRA" before demanding that she hand over the deeds to the restaurant.

Ms Murphy added: "They said it wasn't Declan's, it was the IRA's."

Prosecuting QC Gordon Kerr asked: "Were you told what the consequences would be if you didn't deliver or get the contract?"

Ms Murphy replied: "Yes that I'd get it. I understood they meant they would kill me."

Alongside Gregory in the dock are Paul Anthony John McCaugherty, 43, from Beech Court and Desmond Paul Kearns, 44, from Tannaghmore Green, both Lurgan.

McCaugherty faces seven charges including conspiring to possess firearms and explosives and using EUR46,000 for terrorist purposes.

Kearns is accused of conspiring to possess firearms and explosives, while Gregory is accused of making deeds available for the purposes of terrorism.

The trial continues.

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