Northern Ireland

Court told 'criminal escaped UDA kidnap bid'

Suspected UDA members tried to kidnap a man in east Belfast, a court has heard.

Police claimed the man, described as a "fairly well-known criminal", could have been killed or seriously injured if the suspects had managed to bundle him into a van on Wednesday.

One of those accused of attempting to kidnap him was remanded in custody at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

David Bell, 37, of Moorfield Street, denies unlawfully attempting to take the man away by force.

He also denies possession of an offensive weapon, namely a hammer.

'Death threats'

The kidnapping attempt is alleged to have happened at about 2100 BST on Wednesday in the Ardgowan Street area, off the Castlereagh Road.

A detective constable said the "injured party" had received a number of UDA death threats.

"He believes this person here, plus the other person we are still trying to arrest, is a member of the Ulster Defence Association," he said.

The officer said Mr Bell had not been charged with paramilitary membership, but investigations were ongoing.

He told the court the alleged kidnappers pulled up in a van, ran towards their target and told him to get inside.

"He obviously wasn't going to do this and was able to get away," the detective said.

"If (the suspects) had taken this man away the likelihood would have been serious injury or potentially death."

A defence solicitor said Mr Bell had denied the charges and was a suitable candidate for bail.

The court was told CCTV footage of the alleged incident was still being sought.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall refused to grant bail to give police some time to study any available material.

He was remanded in custody to appear in court again via video-link next week.