TWO Fermanagh men, who police believe are part of an organised crime gang based here in the county, have appeared in court charged with allegedly blackmailing a man in England out of an estimated £1.2 million.
Christopher McGovern (39) from Trasna Way in Lisnaskea and Paul Maye (55) of Sallys Wood in Irvinestown appeared at Enniskillen Magistrates Court this afternoon having been arrested on Monday morning. The arrests follow a series of searches, two in Lisnaskea, two in Irvinestown and one in England, in recent days.
Both Maye and McGovern are charged with blackmailing the man in East Sussex between September 2015 and October 2015. It is alleged the accused were in contact with the man via telephone, and that they posted threatening notes through his home letterbox in England. Police have alleged one of these notes included a threat to rape the man’s wife.
Two women were also arrested in connection with the alleged blackmail, though they have yet to be charged and have been released pending further investigation.
A detective told the court police believed Maye, who has 338 previous convictions, was the “organiser” of the gang, which he said police believed were involved with large scale fraud and blackmail across the island of Ireland.
The detective also said police believed McGovern travelled to England last month where the man handed over £40,000 in cash to him.
Following objections from police, District Judge Nigel Broderick released Maye and McGovern on bail under strict conditions, including having no contact with each other and an order not to leave the jurisdiction. They are due to appear before the court on November 1.
For the full court report on today’s hearing see next week’s Fermanagh Herald.