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Man denies €5k drugs blackmail of FF councillor

A MAN has gone on trial accused of trying to blackmail a former Fianna Fail councillor using pictures of him allegedly taking cocaine.

Wesley Higgins (33) is accused of attempting to extort €5,000 from Liam Kelly by threatening to give the pictures to a newspaper.

The pictures were printed in the Sunday World shortly afterwards.

Higgins, of Dundaniel Road, Kilmore, Coolock, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to demanding money with menaces from the former councillor between August 6 and 12, 2006.

Mr Kelly said he represented Finglas-Glasnevin on Dublin City Council from 2004 to when he lost his seat. in 2009.

He told Tony McGillicuddy, prosecuting, that he knew Higgins "superficially".

Mr Kelly said in early August 2006, Higgins called him and invited him to a party.

The witness said he accepted the invitation because he was an alcoholic and "would have gone anywhere for more drink". He went to the party with Higgins and an unnamed female. He said he left the party in the early hours of the morning.

Mr Kelly said that the accused left a message the next night and told him the female they were with at the party had taken photographs of him and wanted money for them.

The message continued that Higgins was acting as a "middleman" and the woman wanted €5,000 for the photos.

Accused

The accused also allegedly said he needed to be "looked after" as well. A later message stated the accused was having difficulty stopping the woman going to the newspapers with the photographs. A final message stated the pictures showed the councillor snorting cocaine.

Mr Kelly told the jury he had no recollection of snorting cocaine that night.

He added that "blackouts" were a feature of his alcoholism.

He said on August 8 he was on the way to a function in the Manison House when Sunday World reporter Eugene Masterson confronted him in the street and asked him to come to his car to view the photos allegedly showing him taking cocaine.

He identified himself in a photograph of him "inhaling a white powdery substance". He said it wasn't cocaine and that he wanted more time to explain.

He said he later made a complaint to gardai alleging blackmail. The trial continues.

hnews@herald.ie


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