Court hearing | 

Businessman (19) who dug out picturesque Armagh mountain claimed he was IRA chief's nephew

John Aiken landed himself in the dock after gardaí in Dundalk spotted him in an intoxicated state in the border town

Mr Aiken and reporter Hugh Jordan

Hugh Jordan

A rich-kid property developer at the centre of a ‘Missing Mountain Saga’ falsely claimed he was related to a well-known IRA leader when cops quizzed him about being drunk.

But teenage businessman John Aiken – currently involved in a major bust-up over a beauty spot he owns in south Armagh – landed himself in the dock after gardaí in Dundalk spotted him in an intoxicated state in the border town.

And a court recently heard how the boozed-up teen failed to produce any personal identification when asked to do so by police.

But slurring his speech, Aiken (19) told investigating officers he was a nephew of the alleged IRA leader Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy.

And he also invited them to telephone Murphy – who Aiken insisted would verify he was the teenager’s uncle.

A well-known republican figure in south Armagh, farmer ‘Slab’ Murphy was once suspected by the security forces on both sides of the border of being the republican terror group’s so-called chief-of-staff.

Murphy was jailed in the Republic after a high-profile court case in which he was convicted of tax evasion.

And Murphy had previously failed in a defamation case against a British broadsheet newspaper when a jury agreed with the paper’s legal team that he was a senior member of the IRA.

Last month, Garda officers in Dundalk detained wealthy property developer John Aiken after seeing him in a drunken state in the town’s Barrack Street, an area well-known for its many pubs.

Aiken was arrested when he failed to provide his name and address on May 21.

And he was later charged with being intoxicated in a public place and using threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour.

The damage to Faughill mountain on the border beween South Aramgh and Louth has caused devastation to the wildlife of the area.

After trying to pass himself off as ‘Slab’ Murphy’s nephew, Aiken – with an address at Simmonscourt, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 – eventually gave Garda officers correct details which were confirmed by his mother.

Speaking on Aiken’s behalf, a solicitor told Judge Eirinn McKiernan that his client – who has no previous convictions – was extremely embarrassed by his behaviour on the night in question.

John Aiken had arrived at court in Dundalk with €300 in his pocket, which Judge McKiernan ordered should be handed over to the Turas Counselling Service, a local organisation set up to assist people with alcohol addiction issues.

Aiken has become embroiled in a disagreement with south Armagh residents opposed to a land development he recently began near the border.

People living in the Foughill Mountain area outside Jonesborough couldn’t believe their eyes last month when Aiken sliced off a substantial section of the picturesque hillside.

Locals now refer to Foughhill – which for 30 years housed a British Army spy base – as the ‘Missing Mountain’.

It is understood Aiken planned to develop a number of warehouses on a one-acre site he recently purchased from a relative.

But the businessman angered local people when they learned he moved earth-moving diggers onto site.

And when the Sunday World recently challenged Aiken about it, he replied: “Who owns the site? Me, I can do what I like.”

But Aiken and his workers were ordered to down tools and remove their vehicles after Newry, Mourne and Down Council stepped in.

Aiken was told he had to cease all development work for a period of 28 days to allow the council to assess the situation.

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