Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Three men charged with kidnapping drug dealer

Three Newry men have been charged with kidnapping and threatening a drug dealer over missing drugs.

Brendan McEvoy (23), of Maginnis Street; Stephen McCabe (30) and Stephen McEvoy (22), both of Mourneview Park, are alleged to have taken the man from his home on Sunday 17th January.

The trio were arrested after the victim made a statement to police on Monday last.  They appeared before Newry Magistrates Court on Wednesday charged with blackmail, arson and burglary with intent to damage property.

The court heard that the alleged injured party went to police on January 18th and said he had been kidnapped the night before. He claimed three men had told him they would burn down his house, break his arms and legs and leave him “without a tooth in his head” if he did not pay off a debt.

The court was told a drug gang had given the man 5,000 diazepam and cannabis to sell, but he returned the drugs after being unable to get rid of them.

A detective claimed the drug dealer was then approached by the defendants, who said some of the drugs were missing and gave him a day to pay £3,000.

It was also revealed that as the man was giving a statement to police at the station, two males allegedly entered his house and took a TV before setting the property alight as another man allegedly waited outside.

The wife of the injured party reportedly received texts from the trio in advance of the attack on their home.

A prosecution lawyer told the court a message from Stephen McEvoy at 8.39pm to the wife of the alleged victim read: “Is D ok, they had a gun. FA I could do.”

A defence lawyer cross-examined the detective and asked if he was aware that Stephen McCabe had made counter allegations involving Facebook messages from the injured party to his mother.

Counsel added that Stephen McEvoy had been at his own home at the time of his arrest, had an alibi in his girlfriend, and that he denied all the allegations against him.

District Judge Eamonn King refused the bail application because of a risk of interference with witnesses and reoffending.

“The background to this case involves allegations of violence and retribution.  There is a fear from the police that the situation may escalate,” Mr King said.

The case was adjourned until February 17th when the defendants will appear via video-link at the same court.