Two men who admitted involvement in a loyalist paramilitary blackmailing plot were remanded in custody on Friday by a Crown Court Judge.
Moore, from Monarch Parade and Pollins, from Lower Rockview Street, each admitted a charge of professing to belong to the UDA on dates between June 2013 and September 2014. They also both admitted a blackmailing charge, namely making an umwarranted demand of £1000 from Witness A - a businesswoman - with menaces.
A prosecutor said ‘Witness A’ reported the blackmail to police after it emerged that staff at a building site in south Belfast had been approached by two men at the end of March 2013.
The pair claimed they were from the loyalist Village area of the city and initially said they were looking for scrap metal, adding they were “someone in authority.”
Telephone numbers were exchanged between the pair and Witness A, who contacted the PSNI straight away.
A police surveillance operation was launched, and over the course of the operation Moore and Pollins, and Witness A, spoke on the phone, sent text messsages also had several face-to-face meetings.
During one of these conversations, Witness A was told that if she paid protection money, there would be ‘no bother’ from anyone else. Cash was handed over on several occasions, and the pair were arrested on the Boucher Road on the day a payment of £250 was handed over.
Michael Boyd, defence barrister for Moore, said the father of three had “spent a lengthy period of time on remand in relation to these matters’’.
He described Moore and his co-accused as a “couple of chancers trying their luck’’ by trying to get extra money from the sale of scrap metal.
Defence barrister Richard McConkey told the court that Pollins had spent 15 months in custody and during that period his mother had died.
He said that “this enterprise was amateurish in the extreme’’ as Pollins had given his own name and mobile number to ‘Witness A’ in the case.
The barrister said “the enterprise started out an attempt to source scrap metal and the sums of money in this case were very small’’, adding there was “no actual violence or threats of violence in this case’’.
Judge Gordon Kerr QC remanded the two defendants in custody and said he would sentence them next week.