A Co Mayo woman has claimed in the High Court that a Garda Superintendent indicated that she would 'hang' in court unless €30,000 was paid to him and his wife.

Margaret McGreal from Balla, Castlebar, in Co Mayo, claims she and her husband paid the money to Superintendent Patrick Doyle and his wife Bernie to stop her prosecution for alleged theft.

Today she began court proceedings to stop her prosecution going ahead.

Margaret McGreal was arrested in October 2002 and taken to Castlebar Garda Station. Her solicitor, Daniel Coleman, set out in an affidavit to the High Court the events that followed.

Mrs McGreal was being questioned about an alleged theft from Bernie Doyle, the owner of a children's clothes shop in Castlebar where Mrs McGreal worked part-time. Mr Coleman decided to contact Mrs Doyle's husband, Superintendent Patrick Doyle, then based in Westport.

Mr Coleman claims Supt Doyle said a large sum of money had been stolen, a figure of €30,000 was indicated. Mr Coleman says it was made clear to him that if this sum was paid no prosecution would follow. He said Supt Doyle told him that if the money was not paid Mrs McGreal would 'hang' in court.

The McGreals, based on fear, their solicitor says, decided to pay the money. Mr Coleman claims he received repeated calls from the Superintendent and a solicitor as to the status of the money prior to payment.

However, after payment of the money and a retraction by Mrs Doyle, the summons were still issued showing that the amount being claimed was just over €582.