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Break-in accused ‘was out for 5am jog’ when arrested

An alleged burglar claimed he was out jogging when arrested by police near the scene of an attempted break-in, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors yesterday said John Little was detained in Ballygowan, Co Down, after he ran from hedges to a taxi called from east Belfast, prosecutors said.

The 37-year-old claimed he phoned for a pick-up because of cramp during an early-morning six-mile run last Thursday, the court was told.

Crown counsel Nicola Auret said: “The police officer instructs me this was at 5am and he was wet and muddy. He was hiding, made a run towards the taxi, saw police and ran off again.”

Mr Little, from Hornby Crescent, Belfast, faces three charges of burglary and one of attempted burglary. The alleged offences relate to the theft of quantities of cigarettes from shops in Crumlin, Comber and Belfast earlier this month.

According to the prosecution, he was then arrested following the attempted break-in at a filling station in Ballygowan. Large football bags, a screwdriver and pliers were recovered at the scene.

Richard McConkey, defending, disputed the strength of the case against Mr Little.

“He is a man who is regularly going out for runs, he is committed to fitness. It is not as ridiculous as it seems at first blush,” the barrister said.

“He phoned a taxi having suffered from cramp. That came and he was standing on the corner, he wasn't hiding in hedges, and he was arrested by police.

“There isn't a shred of evidence to link this man to the burglary. When one looks at the height of the Crown evidence, how on earth could this man ever be convicted of the charge?”

Mr Little was granted bail to stay at another agreed address in Belfast. He was also curfewed, banned from travelling in private vehicles, and subjected to electronic monitoring.

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