Alleged burglar 'linked to 18 more raids'
A man accused of burgling 16 shops and restaurants in Belfast is being investigated in connection with nearly 20 other break-ins, the High Court has heard.
Prosecutors claimed Andrew Aparicio continued his crime spree after falling out with a man accused of being his accomplice in many of the raids, including one where £15,000 worth of clothing was stolen.
Details emerged as the 31-year-old defendant, from Russell Court in the city, was granted bail.
Aparicio has been charged with multiple burglaries and attempted burglaries that were allegedly committed between July and November last year.
He is alleged to have targeted coffee shops, a fashion store, restaurants, a hairdressers and a butcher's shop at locations in the south and east of the city.
Prosecution counsel Kate McKay told the court: "He's also been released on bail while police investigate a further 18 such burglaries."
Police claim Aparicio and 26-year-old co-accused Conor Allen, of Ormiston Drive in the city, are part of a crime gang.
A judge was told the business premises were all broken into at night, with the raiders either prising their way in with a crowbar or coming in through skylights.
It was confirmed in court yesterday that there was no forensic evidence linking the accused to any of the burglaries.
Instead, the prosecution claimed he could be connected by phone traffic and CCTV footage of the masked raiders.
Defence counsel Richard McConkey attacked the strength of the evidence against his client.
Pointing out that Allen had already been released from custody, he claimed: "The case is very weak against both of them."
Granting bail, Judge Gordon Kerr QC imposed a curfew, tagging and ordered Aparicio's mother to lodge a £2,000 cash surety.