Two of the four men convicted of abducting Bobby Tohill, in Belfast on 20th February 2004, have been sentenced to seven years and six and a half years each following their re-arrest last Monday whilst on-the-run. The other two are still on-the-run. The court was read a letter from Mr Tohill claiming he was now a personal friend of the four men and didn’t want them to go to prison. [if there was ever a *shakes head* moment it’s now – Ed] The court also received a petition for clemency signed by two dozen members of the kidnappers` families.From the report
Gerard McCrory, 34, received seven years in prison and Thomas Tolan, 35, was given a six-and-a-half-year term for abducting Bobby Tohill from a Belfast city centre bar in February 2004.
Those still are large are Harry Fitzsimons, 37, from Spamount Street, and Liam Rainey, 33, from New Barnsley Crescent, Belfast.
Lord Justice Girvan said Mr Tohill had been rescued by police and emerged from his captors` van dazed and confused and with his face covered in blood.
“The actions of the defendants showed that they have little or no remorse for their actions, they didn`t by their actions evince any intention of co-operating with the court,” Mr Justice Girvan said.
A letter from Mr Tohill, read to the court, said he had become friends with his assailants and did not want them to go to jail.
The pair absconded before they were due to be sentenced in Belfast last year and were recovered by police on January 23.
Mr Tohill`s abduction dealt a blow to the political process in 2004 after Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde blamed the Provisional IRA.
The court heard how Mr Tohill`s complete lack of co-operation with police, refusing to give evidence at the trial or write a statement, had left Mr Justice Girvan with little inkling of their purpose except that it was an organised paramilitary-linked attack with serious lawlessness planned.
“The reasonable inference the court must draw in the absence of any explanation put to the court is that this was an organised crime and it had the hallmark of paramilitarism, even if it`s not one that was associated with a particular paramilitary organiation,” he added. “The degree of organisation showed that this was a pre-planned operation.”