A woman held hostage during the £26.5m Northern Bank robbery has told how she was so convinced that she would be killed during the terrifying ordeal that she begged for her body to be returned to her family.
Kyran McMullan was giving evidence at the Belfast Crown Court trial of Christopher Owen Ward (26), from Colinmill in Belfast, who has been charged with robbing the bank and of holding both Mrs Mullan and her husband Kevin hostage. He denies all three charges.
The weeping victim said that whilst being held hostage, she was so convinced they would kill her that she pleaded with them to “get my body back to my family”.
She claimed that after being taken from her husband Kevin and held at a secret location “I just sat and cried most of this time that I would get out of this alive”.
Earlier, she told Mr Justice McLaughlin how a quiet Sunday night at her Loughinisland home suddenly turned into a nightmare with the arrival of two bogus policemen.
Mrs McMullan said that over the next 24 hours — during which she was bound, blindfolded and repeatedly threatened with guns and knives — she was driven to a house where she spent most of her time sat on a chair. The terrified woman was forced to strip to her underwear and wear a boiler suit.
She said that at one stage she was offered tea and sandwiches. Breaking down, she said: “I was astounded that they thought I could sit down with them after they had taken me from my home and that I would want tea and sandwiches with them.”
Mrs McMullan added that in an effort to placate them, she did accept a cup of tea but refused an offer of a bed for the night. She said: “I didn't want to use the bed because there were three men in the room and I was tied and blindfolded and I honestly felt as if I didn't want to be sexually assaulted or raped.”
The woman revealed that as she remained on the chair, she accepted a blanket but refused a pillow because “I didn't want to get that comfortable that I would fall asleep”.
In the final few hours of her captivity, Mrs McMullan said the tone of her kidnappers turned nasty. She said they told her they had got her once and could do so again only the next time “they would not be so nice and they would blow my f***ing head off”.
When she was finally bundled into a car and driven from the house to a forest on the evening of Monday December 20, she was forced to lie face-down on rough ground “on what felt like pine needles”.
After her abductors left her, she still feared she would be shot and followed their orders to count to 10 minutes.
However, after around four minutes she heard what she thought was a gunshot followed by an explosion “and that scared the life” out of her even more. When she thought she had counted enough, she shouted out ‘that's 10 minutes I have waited.'
Despite it being pitch black, she stumbled out of the forest and made her way to a nearby house where the occupant raised the alarm. She was subsequently taken to hospital.