Up to 60 people have received death threats linked to an ongoing loyalist feud in Co Antrim, a court heard today.
Warnings passed on through police and the confidential Crimestoppers charity centre on tensions in the Carrickfergus area, a judge was told.
The claim was made as three men from Newtownards, Co Down were granted bail on charges of having weapons allegedly connected to the dispute.
Robert Ralph, 45, Peter Callaghan, 45, and Adrian Price, 46, were arrested after police stopped a car in Carrick’s Castlemara estate early on October 6.
Officers allegedly seized pick axe handles, a lock knife, hammer and crow bar during searches of the vehicle.
Ralph, from Ballyrainey Road, Callaghan and Price, both of Blenheim Drive, are all charged with possessing an offensive weapon in public.
Price faces a further count of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to another man with intent.
At a previous hearing for a co-accused police claimed the weapons are related to a UDA feud in the area which has continued for a number of months.
As Ralph, Callaghan and Price appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court today a detective claimed they had travelled to Carrickfergus to commit crime.
She also expressed concerns for the safety of two of the defendants if released from custody.
“They were specifically mentioned, that there may be an attack on them in relation to retaliation,” the detective disclosed.
District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told a property believed to be linked to one of the accused has already been set on fire and five vehicles damaged.
But defence solicitor Gavin Graham, of Reavey and Company, disputed any connection to his clients.
Arguing that two co-accused have already been released, he confirmed the defendants were prepared to deal with any risk to themselves.
“There may be some information leaked to Crimestoppers, but over the last two to three months 50 to 60 people have received death threats in Carrickfergus,” Mr Graham said.
Granting bail based on the principle of consistency, Judge Bagnall banned all three accused from entering the Carrick area.
She also imposed a night-time curfew, electronic tagging and ordered them to report to police twice a week. ends