27 August 2005

Leading loyalist has bail conditions changed so he can go on holiday

Daily Ireland

By Ciarán Barnes

A leading Belfast loyalist who faces charges of trying to blackmail £10,000 (€14,000) from a Chinese businessman has had his bail conditions varied so that he can go on holiday, Daily Ireland can reveal.
As part of his bail requirements, Thomas Spence from Posnett Court in the Donegall Pass area of Belfast, has to report to a PSNI barracks once a week.
However, that condition has been lifted for seven days between September 6 and 13 so the 39-year-old can go on a short break.
While he is away Mr Spence will celebrate his 40th birthday on September 11.
This is not the first time he has had his bail conditions varied so that he can go on holiday.
Earlier in the year the south Belfast man was excused from reporting to a PSNI barracks for one week so that he could visit Belgium.
In May 2003, Mr Spence was remanded in custody after he was charged with demanding £10,000 (€14,000) with menaces from a Chinese businessman with the intention that the money be used for the purposes of terrorism.
A detective constable told a court hearing that when questioned Mr Spence denied the charge. He also said that he believed the money was being collected on behalf of the Ulster Volunteer Force.
Mr Spence was sent to Maghaberry prison, but released the following January. While in jail he served his time on the loyalist wing.
He gave a number of media interviews shortly after his release in which he accused prison wardens of brutality.
In January 2003, Mr Spence was sentenced to four months in prison for his role in a riot in Donegall Pass the previous June when shots were fired at the police.
He was found guilty of riotous behaviour.

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