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Two Cullyhanna men deny kidnapping and robbing a taxi driver

Two south Armagh men – including a former Armagh All-Ireland-winning minor footballer – have denied kidnapping and robbing a taxi driver just over a year ago.

Twenty-six-year-old Robert Tasker and his co-accused, Antion Eugene James McCooey, 24, have also pleaded “not guilty” to further charges of common assault and making threats to kill.

Both men appeared before Newry Crown Court this week.

Tasker had been one of the leading lights in the Armagh GAA set-up and was on the minor team in 2009 which won the All-Ireland. He was regarded as a player with great potential and had also turned out as a regular for the senior team.

He and McCooey, each with addresses at St Patrick’s Park in Cullyhanna, are alleged to have robbed Paul Kelly, a Dundalk taxi driver, in November last year, after ordering a taxi to take them home from Dundalk to Cullyhanna.

A previous court appearance heard it alleged that a Stanley knife and screwdriver were produced during the journey to south Armagh and stabbing motions made in the direction of Mr Kelly.

The earlier court sitting was told the taxi driver had begged for his life and escaped when another motorist arrived. It was alleged the two accused had robbed Mr Kelly of €120.

Both defendants appeared in court in Newry this week. And each replied “not guilty” to charges of kidnapping and robbery, and of assaulting and threatening to kill Mr Kelly.

Both Tasker and McCooey were released on continuing appeal pending the start of their trial, with a date set for April 16 next year.

Strict bail conditions have been imposed, including that they do not contact each other, no not drink alcohol in a public place or travel by taxi.

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