THE trial of two men, including a former rising star of Armagh GAA, heard yesterday how they threatened to "rape and murder" a taxi driver on a journey home to Co Armagh.
Ex-GAA minor star Robert Tasker (26) and Antion McCooey (25), both from St Patrick's Park in Cullyhanna, are accused of kidnapping, robbing, threatening to kill and assaulting a Dundalk taxi driver.
Appearing before Newry Crown Court yesterday Mr Tasker is alleged to have held a Stanley knife to Paul Kelly's throat and threatened to rape him on November 29 2016.
The court heard he is alleged to have told the taxi driver "not to move or I'll slash your throat" as he drove them to Cullyhanna.
A prominent GAA footballer, Mr Tasker was part of the Armagh side which won an All Ireland minor football title in 2009.
He was regarded as one of the county's rising stars and until recently was a regular member of the Armagh senior team.
On the first day of evidence yesterday, prosecution barrister Fiona O'Kane told the court Mr Kelly had "suffered a particularly horrible experience at the hands of Mr Tasker and Mr McCooey."
Outlining the prosecution case she said that Mr Kelly had picked up a fare from a Chinese takeaway in Dundalk and that evidence, including CCTV footage, would show that the two men he collected were the defendants.
Ms O'Kane said Mr Kelly would give evidence about getting the "call that night and where it took him" and how when the two accused got into the taxi, Mr Tasker sat in the back seat, while Mr McCooey got into the front passenger seat of the Skoda Octavia.
"He (Mr Kelly) asked for the journey of €30 to be paid upfront, which was paid," she said.
But Ms O'Kane said Mr Kelly will tell the court of how Mr Tasker began to talk in highly sexualised language, including "talking about having sex with a man in Dundalk".
The injured party told Mr McCooey that he felt "uncomfortable" about the conversation and "it was then that the demeanour of the front seat passenger changed and Mr Kelly felt intimidated".
It is alleged that Mr Tasker then "pulled a Stanley knife and put it up against his (Mr Kelly) throat and told him 'not to move or I'll slash your throat'."
His co-accised is alleged to have then producced a screwdriver and threatened the taxi driver telling him, "give me the money".
The court heard the taxi driver handed over a storage container of his takings of €120, but Mr Tasker continued to use graphic language to threaten to rape him.
"A man wielding a Stanley knife and a man wielding a screwdriver, threatening to rape and murder him...how afraid for his life he was," said Ms O'Kane.
"He stopped the car and the witness will tell you he begged for his life....telling them that he was a father of four children," she said.
The court heard when a car passed the now parked taxi, the two men left saying 'let's go, we've got the money', Ms O'Kane alleged.
"But the front seat passenger kept saying 'no, I want to stab him'," she said.
The court heard Mr Kelly contacted the owner of the taxi firm he worked for, Dave Shannon, and went to his house in Co Louth.
In a statement read to court, Mr Shannon said: "Paul Kelly rang me and reported an incident that had happened to him.
"He came to my house and parked the taxi outside and I called Gardaí. Paul came into the house, he was very distressed, he was crying and shaking.
"My wife made him a cup of tea.
"I have known Paul for two years and I have never seen him as upset and distressed as he was."
The court also heard yesterday that following their arrest, both defendants refused to answer questions from police.
Ms O'Kane said Mr McCooey said: "I deny any involvement in the alleged offences I am accused of", while Mr Tasker said he had been "made aware of the allegations made against me....I deny any involvement in these offences".
The two men deny all charges. The trial continues.