A shocking video of a taxi driver believed by the PSNI police to be an ‘enforcer’ for drug deals by the East Belfast UVF has brought attention to their failure to tackle loyalist crime.
Brian Stalford, of Park Avenue, Belfast, was recorded pistol-whipping a terrified passenger before threatening to kneecap him or “take his head off” if he did not work off his debt.
He was subsequently charged with possession of cocaine and a ‘pistol-type’ weapon which appeared to be a powerful semi-automatic Desert Eagle magnum.
The video was greeted with disbelief by social media users who believed it to have been filmed by actors.
While a range of politicians reacted with shock and outrage at the video, the DUP notably failed to condemn it.
It shows Stalford waving the gun in the face of a front seat passenger. Another passenger in the back seat looks on as the driver aggressively intimidates the visibly shocked man in the front seat, at one stage striking him with the gun in the face.
“You are f*cking lucky I’m not f*cking taking your knees out down this f*cking car park son. I’m f*cking telling you now, because that’s the f*cking mood I’m in. Believe me,” the driver is heard telling the man.
“Now I’m telling you, see what happens in this car, see if I hear anybody f*cking talking about it mate, I will take your f*cking head off.”
Stalford refers to a debt owed by the front seat passenger, and indicates that he knows the man in the back seat.
“You f*cking hear me? Right, this is the f*cking last of it son. You f*cking do what you do, you make up what you need to f*cking make up – quickly,” he said.
“You work your f*cking debt off. I’m telling you, see the next time I come back, I’m taking your f*cking legs off. Only because that’s my f*cking mate, and only he is my mate, I would be taking your legs off.
“That’s it, it finishes here. I promise you, that’s it over and done with, I’ll not come back near you. You f*cking make improvements.”
The taxi firm in question issued a statement to say it had been liaising with the PSNI and that Stalford had been sacked.
It emerged in court that the PSNI have failed to recover the gun, but never searched the homes of the two others who were in the car.
Nationalists have been protesting for years at the cosy relationship between the PSNI and loyalist crime gangs. It is suspected action has only been taken against Stalford because the video, recorded some months ago, finally emerged into the public domain.
A huge discrepancy in the policing of the north has allowed rampant drug dealing to take hold in loyalist strongholds such as east Belfast.
Paramilitary flags were openly raised outside a police training college in the same area last week. They were removed on Wednesday evening, only after a nationalist outcry, and after reports of negotiations between the PSNI and the loyalists involved.
Dominic Doherty, a former Sinn Féin press officer, condemned the hypocrisy of the PSNI’s relationship with loyalist paramilitaries. “Could you imagine the unionist uproar outrage and fury if [PSNI Chief Simon Byrne] participated in ‘meaningful discussion’ with dissident Republicans to have illegal paramilitary flags removed?” he asked.