herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Hoax kidnap staged in bid to get €50k ransom

A MAN who took part in a hoax abduction in order to get money from the father of the fake kidnap "victim" has been given a two-year jail sentence.

Ciaran Sweeney (40) pleaded guilty to his part in demanding €50,000 from Willie Ward snr after the father was sent photographs of his son bound and held at gunpoint.

Mr Ward's son Liam was previously jailed for three years after posing for the fake abduction photos and telling his father: "If you love me, you'll pay".

Sweeney, of Millrace Square, Moneymore, Co Tyrone, pleaded guilty to making an unwarranted demand for money at St Bridget's, Clondalkin, on February 14, 2007.

Detective Garda John Stack told Tara Burns, prosecuting, that on that morning Liam Ward's girlfriend received two photographs of her boyfriend bound, gagged and with a sawn-off shotgun held to his head.

Watched

Words on the back of the photograph stated: "€50,000 by 3 o'clock or he will have a closed casket. Every car and van are being watched. We will know. Any guards, end of."

After he saw these, Mr Ward Snr contacted gardai. Detectives immediately suspected that this was a hoax or set-up but advised the family to go along with the ransom demands.

Gardai set up their search and surveillance teams, which led to Ward being seen in a car coming from Drogheda to Dublin where he was to be handed over to his father in exchange for an envelope that would have contained not money, but a newspaper.

A detective then placed himself into the M50 toll booths, which were still in place in 2007. From here he was able to see the car driven by Ciaran Sweeney and see Liam Ward sitting in the passenger seat.

The "kidnap victim" was later seen going in to pay for petrol while Sweeney operated a petrol pump. Gardai decided to move in then and arrest the two men.

Sweeney admitted later he would be paid €1,000 if Ward Jnr got the money from his father. Sweeney is already serving a sentence for importation of over €60,000 worth of drugs.

He received a sentence of 10 years with five suspended at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court in 2007.

hnews@herald.ie

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