A man who tried to extort €50,000 from his family by faking his own Tiger kidnap after he lost a carload of drugs, was sentenced to five years in prison in the Circuit Court in Athlone this week (December 6 ).
Liam Ward (32 ), a father of two originally from Tallaght, but also with addresses in Drogheda and Mullingar had the last two years of his sentence suspended after a “dignified” victims impact statement from his family pleaded for clemency.
The court heard how Ward, a drug addict since he was 12, had left a car with €50,000 of cannabis in it unattended in Dundalk in early 2007, and when he returned it had been taken by persons unkown. He then came up with this plan when threatened by the dealer, the court heard.
On Valentine’s Day, 2007 his sister Brenda received photographs of him bound and gagged, with a shotgun pointed at his head, and instructions on the back.
Gardaí became suspicious after two addresses given for the handover of the ransom in Dundalk, and then Drogheda were known to them, and so they set up a surveillance operation.
A car known to be associated with Ward left the Drogheda address at the same time his father agreed to hand over a ransom at a Dublin address.
Ward was observed stopping at a filling station and sitting in a car park for a period of time waiting for his father, and the gardaí gave evidence that at no time did he seem to be under duress.
The two men in the car, Ward included, were then arrested and found to be in possession of a knuckleduster and a knife. The other has been charged, and gardaí “have sufficient evidence to prosecute another two”, the court heard.
Ward had a total of 79 previous convictions in Dublin, Kilcock, Naas, and Mullingar, Judge Tony Hunt was told .
In Mullingar Circuit Court last week, where Ward pleaded not guilty but was convicted, gardaí said they suspected Ward had been a member of the gang because he had been upset his mother had left him out of her will in 2002, leaving him none of a large settlement she received after contracting hepatitis C.
Though Ward offered an apology in court yesterday, Judge Hunt said his hands “were somewhat tied seeing as you ran the case. If you’d said these things last week, it might have been different”.