Sunday 22 April 2018

Publican threatened in chilling ransom bid

Tom Shiel

A 60-YEAR-old man sent a chilling, anonymous, extortion letter to the owner of his local pub demanding that €2,000 be left at a local church or his five-year-old son would go missing.

Thomas Lynskey, of Atlantic View, Belmullet, Co Mayo, demanded that the money be left at the pillar of a disused church some miles away for collection.

Otherwise, Lynskey warned Padraig Conroy, owner of McDonnell's Pub, Belmullet, the life of his five-year-old son and other family members would be jeopardised.

Judge Raymond Groarke was told at the Circuit Criminal Court in Castlebar yesterday that Mr Conroy complied with the demand to leave the money at the church on the instructions of local gardai.

But Lynskey was arrested by Garda Hugh Egan after he arrived on foot at Barhauve Church to collect the cash bag.

The accused, a former labourer who has retired from working in Britain, pleaded guilty to demanding money with menace from Padraig Conroy on October 30 last.

In the chilling extortion letter, which he posted to Mr Conroy, Lynskey warned "your son will go missing if your ransom is not met in time".

The note added: "We know where you live and where the kids go to school and we know where all your families live.

"We need this money to get out of Belmullet and we need it one way or another. It could be the hard or the easy way. It could be your wife, Padraig."

It continued: "We are not very nice people. We come from a very bad place. You would not like it. It's a gun and knife place.

"If you call the law, it will be one of the worst things you could do. You must keep this to yourself. If not you are a dead man. If you talk to anybody in your pub we have it bugged and we can hear you. You better say nothing about it."

When arrested, Lynskey, who was accompanied to court yesterday by a number of his daughters, admitted he was behind the extortion attempt.

Garda Egan said that Mr Conroy and his wife, Marie, were "totally shocked" as Lynskey was a regular visitor to their pub and often did odd jobs for the family.

Appealing for leniency, Eoin Garavan said Lynskey now had serious health issues including heart and liver problems.

Judge Groarke adjourned sentencing until next month.

Irish Independent

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