Prominent Republican refused bail

Friday 31 August 2001 18.37

A prominent Republican from the Ardoyne area of North Belfast has been refused bail at a High Court hearing in the city. Eddie Copeland has denied charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault and threatening to kill another person.

Thirty-one-year-old Eddie Copeland was remanded in custody a week ago on charges arising from the abduction of a man from a betting shop in Ardoyne two days previously. The alleged victim was Patrick Shannon, also from Ardoyne.

The prosecution lawyer said that Patrick Shannon was known to police as a drug dealer, and that he had been subjected to paramilitary-style beatings and shootings.

The court heard that, earlier this week, Mr Shannon had contacted the RUC and indicated that he wished to withdraw his statement in which he allegedly named Mr Copeland.

The lawyer said that Mr Shannon was indicating that his family, including his 70-year-old mother, had been threatened and instructed that the charges must be withdrawn. He claimed that bore all the hallmarks of paramilitaries and the prosecution alleged that Mr Copeland was the senior IRA man in North Belfast.

Mr Copeland's lawyer said that he denied any part in kidnapping, issuing threats or using intimidation against Mr Shannon and his family. The judge said that there was extremely strong evidence against Mr Copeland and refused bail.