Blackmailer Terrence McGinley threatened his victims with IRA violence
A blackmailer has been jailed after he demanded thousands of pounds from two horse dealers by claiming to be an IRA gunman.
Terrence McGinley, 31, extorted £3,000 from a Cornish farmer and tried to get a further £5,000 from a smallholder in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.
He claimed they owed him money and told them he was a former IRA terrorist who would have them shot unless they paid up.
McGinley is a member of a notorious Irish traveller family from Somerset and his older brother Dennis is already serving an eight-year term for a series of identical blackmails which netted him £1 million.
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McGinley recruited farmer and part-time horse trader Joseph Beach to be his legman and he identified the two victims who he terrified with threats of violence.
He convinced them he was able to carry out his threats by organising a charade in which Beach appeared to call a contact in Ireland who confirmed the story. Police phone checks showed the call went to McGinley himself.
McGinley, who was living at a travellers' site in Sussex at the time, fled the country after being released on police bail and was only arrested when he returned more than a year later.
He admitted conspiracy to blackmail and was jailed for four and a half years by Recorder Mr Jonathan Fuller, QC, at Exeter Crown Court.
Beach, from Sidcot, Winscombe, Somerset, was jailed for two and a half years after being found guilty of the same offence by a jury last year.
David Sapiecha, prosecuting, said the two victims of McGinley's plot were both horse dealers, one aged in his early 50s and living near Liskeard, the other 75, with a heart condition, living near Weston-super-Mare.
McGinley posed as an IRA terrorist named Paul Maguire and claimed to be owed money by both men, which was wholly untrue. He made his threats by phone and through Beach.
Mr Sapiecha said Beach posed as a fellow victim and added lustre to the threats by a "piece of theatre" in which he pretended to phone a horse racing contact in Ireland, who confirmed that "Maguire" was a dangerous IRA gunman.
The first victim handed over £3,000 in the car park of Morrisons in Weston-super-Mare but went to the police when McGinley demanded another £9,000. The second victim was asked for £5,000 but reported it rather than paying.
Mr Sapiecha said: "McGinley convinced them he worked for the IRA and they did not want to mess with him because he was dangerous, knew where they lived, and would shoot them.
"This case involved the targeting of two wholly innocent people and nasty threats that were taken seriously and caused real fear."
Edward Bailey, defending, said McGinley had come back from Ireland of his own volition and accepted he had a leading role in the conspiracy.