31 July 2023

Men charged over alleged extortion attempt in Riverina appear in court

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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two male police officers arrest man

Raptor Squad South detectives have arrested four men and seized 17 firearms during their investigation into the alleged extortion of a Riverina man. Photo: NSW Police.

Four men have fronted court following multiple raids across the state as part of an investigation into an alleged extortion attempt on a Riverina man.

NSW Police officers arrested Grant King, Tony Merritt, Mahmoud Chaouk and Mohamed Chaouk on 19 July at various locations across the state following an alleged extortion attempt on a 50-year-old Griffith man in July.

Police said the Griffith man was allegedly approached by four men on numerous occasions, physically assaulted and threatened to hand over a sum of money.

READ ALSO Police charge four men over alleged extortion attempt in Griffith

King appeared in Parkes Local Court on 21 July, charged with demanding property in company with menaces with intent to steal, aggravated robbery and inflicting bodily harm, and participating in a criminal group and contributing to criminal activity.

Magistrate Brett Thomas formally denied King’s bail request.

Merritt also fronted Parkes Local Court on the same day over the same charges as King.

Magistrate Thomas granted Merritt bail on the condition that he must live at Forbes, must report to Forbes Police Station once daily between 8 am and 8 pm, and not leave his home at night (6 pm to 6 am).

Raptor Squad South detectives investigated an alleged extortion attempt with support from the Murrumbidgee Police Area Command and the NSW Crime Commission. Photo: NSW Police.

He must not enter Griffith or go within 20 km of the area, except while attending court, and must not be in contact with King or the Chaouks. He must pay $2000 if he does not comply with the bail conditions.

Magistrate Thomas set the next court date for King and Merritt as 13 September at Griffith Local Court.

Mahmoud Chaouk fronted Albury Local Court over the same charges as Merritt and King.

He was granted bail by Magistrate James Viney on the conditions that he must live at Merrylands and report to Merrylands Police Station once daily between 6:30 am and 9:30 pm. He must not leave his premises between 10 pm and 6 am.

He was also ordered to surrender his expired passport, and not apply for any new travel documentation or go within 500 metres of any domestic departure points. Chaouk must not enter Griffith, or have any form of contact with the other defendants and alleged victim.

He is set to return to Albury Local Court on 12 September.

Mohamed Chaouk fronted Parramatta Local Court on 20 July on the same charges as Mahmoud Chaouk, King and Merritt.

He did not apply for bail and it was formally refused by Magistrate Susan McIntyre, who set his next court date for 14 September at Parramatta Local Court.

Following further inquiries, on 20 July Raptor Squad officers executed two search warrants in Griffith and Stanbridge.

At the Stanbridge address, police seized 17 firearms and served a firearms licence suspension notice on a 55-year-old man.

Investigations are ongoing.

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