Two men have appeared in court accused over an alleged blackmail plot linked to a Belfast hospital.

John Shields and Peter McKeown, jointly charged with demanding money from a man with menaces, were at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Shields, who is 37 and from Belfast, is facing further counts of possessing ecstasy drugs and possession with intent to supply.

The alleged blackmail attempt is connected to an incident at the Royal Victoria Hospital last weekend. The court heard that the alleged victim is a member of Shields’ family. He did not seek bail and was remanded in custody to appear again next month.

But a lawyer for co-accused McKeown, a 42-year-old heroin addict from Belfast, said a friend had asked him to drop off a bag to the alleged victim at the hospital.

Solicitor Michael Madden said his client felt “slightly obliged” after being given free drugs.

“He felt he was doing a favour,” Mr Madden told the court.

“He didn’t think there was anything suspicious. He would say he goes to the hospital and was so high that he forgot why he was there.”

It was claimed that McKeown wandered around the hospital for up to an hour.

Mr Madden added: “I would submit that doesn’t chime with blackmail, someone who is high, walking around trying to find this person.”

A detective constable who connected both accused to the alleged offences confirmed McKeown gave an account to police which opened up other lines of inquiry.

Deputy District Judge Peter King refused to grant him bail. McKeown was remanded in custody to appear along with his co-accused by video link on 6 November.