A former unionist paramilitary ‘brigadier’ has been fined just one pound after prosecutors agreed a deal with the defence in a Belfast courtroom over the proceeds of his crimes.
In a decade-long reign as the feared UDA leader in north Belfast, Andre Shoukri ruined lives and amassed a fortune from criminal enterprises.
He lived a lavish lifestyle, travelling in expensive cars, taking foreign holidays and gambling huge sums.
However, Belfast Crown Court was this week told that the former loyalist leader has no “realisable assets” to speak of.
The so-called ‘Brigadier of Bling’ who is serving a nine-year jail term for extortion and blackmail will be eligible to apply for parole in three months.
The PSNI police had been seeking 147,000 pounds from Shoukri after he used a dishonestly obtained money transfer to purchase a property in the Ballysillan area.
However, the prosecution and defence agreed on the nominal sum of one pound. Mr Justice Treacy, who jailed the deposed UDA boss in November 2007 for offences including blackmail, intimidation and acquiring criminal property, said simply: “I will issue the order.”
Justice Treacy was recently criticised for the lenient sentences he issued earlier this month against loyalists who were convicted of killing Ballymena teenager Michael McIlveen in a sectarian gang attack.
Along with his brother Ihab - who died last November from a suspected drugs overdose - Shoukri lived a gangster life-style until he fell out with the UDA.
The brothers were expelled from the organisation in 2006.
Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Gerry Kelly said the fine “beggared belief”.
“Nobody will understand how this man - who has been connected to an organisation that has been known for its criminality, which includes racketeering and drugs - ends up getting a single one pound fine,” he said.
“Most nationalists will look at this alongside the Criminal Justice Inspectorate report today that shows Catholics are being prosecuted more by the Public Prosecution Service, more are sentenced and even in jail get less privileges.
“All this will do is add grist to the mill.”