Man accused of '£5,000 blackmail' has bail application refused at court in Ballymena

Man accused of '£5,000 blackmail' has bail application refused at court in Ballymena

A MAN accused of blackmailing a man in County Antrim who was allegedly told he would be shot if he did not hand over £5,000, has failed in his latest bid to get bail.

Jonathan Robert Sterling (35), of Ballygomartin Road, and Stephen McLaughlin (39), of Heather Street - both Belfast - are charged with 'blackmail' by allegedly making 'an unwarranted demand of £5,000 with menaces' on November 24 last year.

A previous court heard the incident was allegedly linked to the 'west Belfast UDA'.

Sterling appeared via video link from prison, where he had been on remand, for a bail application at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, on Tuesday January 11.

A police officer objected to bail saying he still had concerns that there could be "interference with witnesses".

He said the alleged injured party had shown police CCTV from his home address which showed that around 2am on December 18, 2021, an "unidentified male" was seen outside and made a "gun gesture with his hand" whilst pointing in the direction of the property.

The officer said the December 18 incident happened whilst Sterling was in custody and "there is no reason to believe that Mr Sterling is involved in that".

District Judge Nigel Broderick said it was a matter of concern that the alleged injured party "appears to still be subject to threats of intimidation".

Sterling had bail refused and the case was adjourned to February 1.