Duo charged over ‘paramilitary style kidnapping’ denied bail despite ‘no evidence’

Bishop Street courthouse.
Bishop Street courthouse.

Two men charged in connection with what a police officer described as ‘a paramilitary style kidnapping’ have been refused bail despite a solicitor telling he court there was ‘no evidence against them.’

Damian Donaghey (31) of Circular Road in Derry and George McBrearty (33) from Burnfoot in County Donegal were charged with kidnapping a man on October 26.

A police officer connected the two to the charge and opposed bail.

He told the court that at around 9 p.m. on October 26 police had received a report from a member of the public that a black 4x4 had pulled up alongside a red van in the Westway area of Creggan and two males had pulled a man out of the van and taken him away.

The alleged injured party was said to have told police he had been kidnapped by four people, taken to a wooded area, interrogated and threatened with being shot.

The details of the 4x4 were circulated and just before 11 p.m. a similar vehicle was spotted in the Clon Elagh area of Derry and two men, the defendants, were seen walking away from it.

Police approached the men and a hammer and a machete were found in the vehicle. They were arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and made no comment interviews.

Their clothes and phones were examined and on Donaghey’s phone it was claimed was a photo of the red van.

CCTV was checked and it appeared to show him taking a photo of the van in Derry City centre earlier that day.

The officer opposed bail stating that the evidence suggested that the alleged injured party was being followed around the city and if released the pair could interfere with the investigation.

The officer said that police still had to speak to ‘one significant witness’ and added that the ‘paramilitary type assault’ could deter witnesses.

Defence solicitor Mr. Paddy McGurk asked the officer had he received a statement from the alleged injured party stating he did not want to pursue charges and was told he had.

Mr. McGurk asked had the alleged injured party stated that he had been ‘pressurised’ by the police to make a statement to police and was not prepared to any further with the case.

He read out from the withdrawal statement from the alleged injured party ‘the only parties who pressurised me were the investigators who pressurised me into making a statement I did not wish to make and a complaint I do not wish to pursue.’

The solicitor said the police had ‘no fingerprints, no identification evidence that puts the pair in Westway and you don’t have an injured party.’

He said the police would have ‘great difficulty’ in proceeding with the case.

He continued that he accepted they were serious charges but there was no evidence.

District Judge Michael Ranaghan said he had given consideration to the case and was refusing bail.

He said the evidence ‘may have been weakened’ but was still there and added that it was ‘a most serious and sinister type of offending.’

Both men were remanded in custody to appear again on November 23.