Two men sentenced for assault in paramilitary-style attack

Two men were sentenced on Tuesday for assault and threatening to remove their victim’s legs in a paramilitary-style attack.

Robert O’Neill, 42 from Belfast and Daniel McClean, 52, from Dunmurry pleaded guilty earlier this month to collecting information useful to terrorism, and common assault, on February 6, 2014.

They were arrested by detectives from the PSNI’s Terrorism Investigation Unit following searches in the West Belfast and Dunmurry areas, in relation to an investigation into paramilitary-style attacks.

On Tuesday, at Belfast Crown Court, O’Neill was sentenced to two years and eight months.

Due to time spent on remand, he will not be returned to prison.

McClean received a two-year sentence, suspended for three years.

Both men are subject to a 10-year notification order.

Detective Inspector David Lowans, from PSNI’s Terrorism Investigation Unit, said: “Today’s successful prosecution and sentencing of Robert O’Neill and Daniel McClean demonstrates our commitment to pursue anyone involved in terrorism and also anyone involved in any aspect of a paramilitary-style attack.

“There are many obvious challenges in relation to bringing counter terrorism cases to court, such as fear of victims and witnesses to speak out or give evidence, however we will always work to overcome these.

“Today’s result is testimony to the fact that we can still prosecute people involved in terrorism even when the victim does not want to give evidence.

“Mr O’Neill and Mr McClean were arrested as part of an operation during which evidence was gathered that they assaulted a man in an attempt to intimidate him into divulging the names and addresses of people dealing drugs in the area, as well as what types of drugs.

“They hit him and made a number of threats to ‘blow off his legs with a shotgun’ if he did not provide this information or if he told any lies.”

Detective Inspector David Lowans added: “There is no place in modern society for this violence and threats of violence.

“Paramilitary-style attacks don’t work; they are barbaric and despite claims from the groups responsible that they are protecting their communities, they are only ever about people cementing their own status and control over their communities.”