Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Friday, May 29, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Declan Duffy, One Trial Over, One More To Go !!!

Former INLA leader gets four years in jail

The former leader of the INLA in Dublin, Declan `Whacker’ Duffy, has been jailed for four years for membership of the organisation.

Earlier this month, at the Special Criminal Court, Duffy publicly turned his back on the terrorist group and pleaded guilty to the INLA membership charge.

He admitted membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish National Liberation Army, otherwise the INLA on June 22, last year.

Det Supt Diarmaid O’Sullivan told the court that gardaí came into possession of confidential information in August 2007 that a businessman in Cork, Denis Maguire, had been made the potential target of a subversive organisation. He was to be detained and money extorted from him.

The court heard that Duffy was observed on October 18, 2007, in the company of another man. They drove to Cork and booked in at the Silver Springs Hotel under false names and addresses.

The following morning, Duffy and the other man were observed by gardaí driving to the home of the intended target of the extortion, a premises at Lover’s Walk, Montenotte.

Det Supt O’Sullivan said that a “circuitous route” was taken.

“This is an anti-surveillance tactic,” he said.

Duffy exited the car and entered the premises. The gardaí lost sight of him for five minutes. Duffy then left the property and returned with the other man to the Silver Springs.

Duffy was observed again on November 6 travelling to Cork, again booking into the Silver Springs using a false name and address.

Three other men – who booked into Jury’s Inn in Cork, using aliases - were also under surveillance on that date.

Det Supt O’Sullivan told the court that the three men left Jury’s Inn at 11.45am that morning and met Duffy in the car park of the Silver Springs.

They all travelled together to the house at Lover’s Walk, Montenotte. Once again, a circuitous route was taken.

The three men who had travelled with Duffy entered the premises. Duffy did not.

The four men then drove back to Cork city centre.

The following morning, Duffy was again observed outside the premises at Lover’s Walk. The wife of the proposed target drove into Cork city and was followed by Duffy.

Det Supt O’Sullivan told the court that the intended target, Mr Maguire, then made an unexpected trip to Spain.

“This created a problem for the people involved” in the intended extortion.

Duffy and the men were observed shaking hands and departing each other’s company.

The court was told that Duffy was observed at a meeting at the Mercantile pub on Dame St in Dublin on February 11 last year.

Gardaí approached those at the bar. Duffy gave his name to them.

Over a week later, five men were arrested in Cork in relation to the proposed extortion and were subsequently charged with INLA membership.

Two of those men have pleaded guilty while the other three are currently on trial.

Duffy was arrested on June 22 last year. His house was searched and books of evidence relating to three men charged with offences before the Special Criminal Court were found.

Duffy was interviewed twelve times by gardaí.

Det Supt O’Sullivan said that he “generally was evasive in relation to the answers.”

Duffy has previous convictions at the Special Criminal Court. In January 2001 he was sentenced to five years for possession of a handgun on October 6, 1999.

He was also sentenced to nine years each for four further convictions, which were the false imprisonment of four men, detaining them without their consent, also on October 6, 1999.

Det Supt O’Sullivan agreed with Michael O’Higgins SC that Duffy’s public disassociation from the INLA was a “significant factor” in the case.

He also agreed that it is easier to disassociate from a subversive organisation than it is to re-associate.

Paul Hogan, school principal and member of the Castlerea Prison Visiting Committee, told the court that he had a “degree of contact” with Duffy while he was serving time for his previous convictions.

He said that he believed the “penny has finally dropped” for Duffy.

“He has kids – eight and ten years old – who are at a critical point. They need a dad. His partner told me she put it up to him if he doesn’t disassociate with all forms of subversive activity, she’ll part ways with him.”

Mr Hogan said: “I honestly believe Declan is not going to re-offend.”

“I think Declan is ready to move on with his life if he’s given a chance.”

Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne, presiding at the three-judge, non-jury court, said that the offence is a “serious one”.

Duffy’s guilty plea also had to be taken into consideration, she said, adding that the court “places significant weight on the public disassociation from the INLA.”

However, Ms Justice Dunne said that another “significant factor” was the Duffy’s previous convictions, “arising out of the so-called Ballymount incident”.

She also said: “It is disturbing to note that within eight months of his release, the accused was involved in the events which led up to this offence.”

Duffy’s four-year sentence was backdated to July 2, last year.

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