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Man threatened he'd torch shop in dressing gown row, court hears

By Alan Erwin

Published 23/06/2016

An angry customer allegedly locked staff in a printing shop and threatened to burn it down in a dispute over a dressing gown, the High Court has heard
An angry customer allegedly locked staff in a printing shop and threatened to burn it down in a dispute over a dressing gown, the High Court has heard

An angry customer allegedly locked staff in a printing shop and threatened to burn it down in a dispute over a dressing gown, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors claimed employees at the business in Belfast were left terrified by Gary Byrne's alleged actions.

The 29-year-old is also accused of attacking up to four police officers after they were called to the scene earlier this month.

Byrne, from Hawtree Park in Lisburn, faces charges of false imprisonment, threats to kill, threats to damage property, disorderly behaviour, four assaults on police and criminal damage to a PSNI cell that he allegedly smeared in excrement.

During a bail application, it was claimed he went into Dstar Printing Boutique on Castle Street on June 7 and demanded to speak to the manager. A judge was told he shouted: "You wrecked my newborn baby's house coat."

Prosecution counsel alleged Byrne continued to scream and rant before going behind the counter and declaring: "Right, this shop is f****** shut."

The premises were locked for a period with three members of staff inside, the court heard.

"They all appeared to be terrified as he appeared to be completely out of control," the prosecutor added.

It was claimed that the defendant also threatened: "I'm going to burn this f****** shop down while you're all in it."

Bryne allegedly continued by telling staff there were three ways to sort out the situation - the right way, the wrong way or the illegal way. He then unlocked the shop, approached police outside and asked: "Are youse looking for me?" the court heard.

Officers were forced to put him in leg restraints and handcuffs amid fears he was going to strike out, it was claimed.

Byrne is accused of threatening to bite one constable and kicking two others.

Mr Justice Horner heard that after the defendant was brought into custody he allegedly daubed excrement on a cell wall and wrote the word "dirty" on it.

Defence barrister Michael Boyd said: "He (the accused) for whatever reason seems to deal very, very poorly with any sort of conflict situation."

Adjourning the application for bail, the judge stressed that he would not consider releasing Byrne without seeing a psychiatric report.

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