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Scum of a gun Thug pleads guilty to beating man until victim begged to be shot

Mr McAndrew was put into the boot of a Mercedes E3 and was told that his mother and daughter would never see him again if he did not pay €50,000 to them in the coming days.

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Tony Finglas is facing another stint  behind bars after admitting his part in the extortion beating

Tony Finglas is facing another stint behind bars after admitting his part in the extortion beating

Tony Finglas is facing another stint behind bars after admitting his part in the extortion beating

This is the gun-toting, woman-beating drug dealer who has pleaded guilty to his role in a vicious extortion attack on a businessman who was beaten so badly he begged to be shot to end his ordeal.

Tony 'Skitter' Finglas (49), originally from Drogheda but with an address at Havelock Place, Warrenpoint, Co Down, pleaded guilty this week to his involvement in an incident where Mayo businessman Edward McAndrew was beaten with iron bars and threatened by a group of men demanding €50,000.

The men told McAndrews they were members of the Continuity IRA.

The dissident group split into numerous factions in recent years but have always claimed to be anti-drugs.

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Tony ‘Skitter’ Finglas posted photos of himself
on a trip to Pattaya in Thailand where he went to a shooting range and boasted of his accuracy

Tony ‘Skitter’ Finglas posted photos of himself on a trip to Pattaya in Thailand where he went to a shooting range and boasted of his accuracy

Tony ‘Skitter’ Finglas posted photos of himself on a trip to Pattaya in Thailand where he went to a shooting range and boasted of his accuracy

Finglas has been involved in the drug trade for decades and was previously targeted by republicans in the Louth area who demanded he pay money to them to continue operating.

In 2010, his house was targeted in a gun attack and a chip van he owned was stolen and burnt out in incidents believed to be linked to the drug trade.

That same year, the Sunday World revealed how Finglas travelled to the sleazy Thai city of Pattaya where he took part in weapons training at a firing range. The thug happily posed with an arsenal of firearms, including automatic rifles, pump-action shotguns, revolvers and semi-automatic handguns.

He even boasted online about his skills at the firing range: "What can I say, five out of six from a .38 isn't bad ha, ha, ha, you wouldn't be getting up after it, I can rest assure you [sic]."

A few weeks after our article was published Finglas lost the rag with gardai who were carrying out a drugs search of his car.

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Tony 'Skitter'  Finglas enjoying the high life

Tony 'Skitter' Finglas enjoying the high life

Tony 'Skitter' Finglas enjoying the high life

He bumped into one garda before making threats and calling him a "little kn*cker".

He received a suspended sentence for the incident.

Despite the fact he has more than 50 convictions for offences including drug dealing, Finglas's solicitor told the court during that 2010 hearing that he had been written about in an "untrue manner" by the Sunday World and also claimed he had no interest in taking or possessing drugs.

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In court this week, his defence counsel said he was now a recovering crack cocaine addict who was taking part in a drug treatment programme.

Finglas pleaded guilty in the Special Criminal Court on Monday to demanding money with menaces from Mr McAndrew at One Ferry Hill, Cornamucklagh, Omeath, Co Louth, on December 2, 2017.

A victim impact statement read to the court by prosecuting barrister Ms Anne-Marie Lawlor, SC, said that after his ordeal Mr McAndrew, who traded in plant machinery, became suicidal and endured "an unbearable psychological and emotional impact".

Det Sgt Padraig Boyce told the court Mr McAndrew received an email from a man called "Barry" in 2017 saying he had machinery for sale and subsequently arranged a meeting in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dundalk on December 2, 2017.

When he got there he met a 25 to 30-year-old man who discussed selling machinery worth €135,000 to Mr McAndrew.

He followed the man in a car to supposedly view the machinery, but lost him along the way before meeting him again and getting into a van with the man.

Mr McAndrew was driven to Cornamucklagh, just 200 metres from the border, where three men brandishing iron bars and knuckledusters attacked him.

In a statement to gardai, Mr McAndrew said that the men claimed to be members of the Continuity IRA and began to "batter" the victim about the head, body and legs while demanding money.

Mr McAndrew was put into the boot of a Mercedes E3 and was told that his mother and daughter would never see him again if he did not pay €50,000 to them in the coming days.

Hospital

Mr McAndrew later identified Finglas from an indentity parade and recognised his accent from a moment at the scene when Finglas said: "Ease off or you'll kill him".

After two hours in the boot of the car, Mr McAndrew was released and managed to reach his own jeep before driving to hospital.

Mr McAndrew later claimed to gardai and doctors he was in a motorcycle crash but received phone calls and emails demanding money while his daughter was sent a text message claiming to be from "Barry". His house was targeted in a fire attack the same day.

Mr McAndrew recorded one of the calls and went to gardai to report the matter.

The PSNI and gardai then co-operated in a search of Finglas's house in Warrenpoint, where they found Mr McAndrew's phone which contained the number of his daughter.

In a victim impact statement, Mr McAndrew stated that when the three males threatened to shoot him, he asked to be shot "to end it all".

He added that he has facial scars that he sees every day, cannot sleep, suffers flashbacks and had taken to drinking to numb the psychological and emotional impact of the attack.

He said he was in counselling and doesn't feel that he or his family are safe and felt he'd be better off leaving the country. Defence barrister Michael Bowman, SC, said Finglas was not the man who featured in the recorded call to Mr McAndrew and said his client was "muscle" for the gang and not "operationally engaged".

He added that he did not use iron bars and said to the others "go easy or you'll kill him [Mr McAndrew]" during the attack.

Mr Bowman said Finglas was a grandfather but presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt told him "not to push too hard on the grandfather line; he's hardly a candidate for Werther's Original."

The case was adjourned for sentencing to December 15.

Two other men remain before the court in relation to the matter.

Finglas has a long history of involvement in crime, stretching back to the late 1980s, and had his first stint in Mountjoy while still a teenager.

By 1992, when he was 22, Finglas was described in court as already having "an appalling record for violence and drugs".

Finglas had to be physically removed from the court after shouting obscenities at a judge who had sentenced him to two years in jail for assaulting a man and attempting to pervert the court of justice by intimidating his victim into withdrawing a statement he made to gardai in relation to another criminal matter.

He had attacked a man in Drogheda with a golf club, put a carpet knife to his throat and threatened him with a lump hammer during the incident.

That same year, he was convicted of assault and intimidation after lunging at a barman with a knife having been refused service in a pub. He was tackled to the ground and restrained by the barman and another man before he could carry out any serious damage.

Finglas was regularly abusive while drunk and on one occasion in 1995, when he was arrested for being intoxicated and abusive, he set fire to a mattress in a garda station cell.

That same year he was given a one year sentence for a vicious assault on his girlfriend at the time.

The woman had gone to visit a friend while Finglas stayed home looking after their children. When she went to check on their baby on her return she found the infant had been sick and was covered in vomit. She confronted Finglas over the issue and he hit her with a poker and continued to beat her and grab her by the neck.

Cocaine

"I came to with a kick to the face," she told the court.

Finglas also bit her during the incident and grabbed her back inside the house when she tried to escape.

The woman was left with a number of injuries after the attack and said she was living in fear.

By 1996 Finglas was barred from all pubs and licensed premises in Drogheda by the local district court after threatening a garda.

Two years later, he was jailed again after being caught with 450 ecstasy tablets and sentenced to five years.

He claimed he found the drugs in a field and his life was under threat after taking the stash.

He returned to drug dealing after his release from prison and in November 2005 gardai arrested him with €5,000 worth of cocaine at an apartment in Drogheda.

Finglas threw a towel at gardai when they smashed into the apartment at Fitzwilliam Court in Drogheda and he grabbed a knife on the counter, but put it down when an officer drew his firearm.

Finglas had the tap running and cocaine was being thrown out the window when gardai arrived. He also swallowed a bag of pure cocaine during the raid and had to be hospitalised until it passed through his system.

He later admitted to gardai he was "caught by the b*****ks" during the raid.

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