Belfast Telegraph

Alleged gang leader behind 'Polish feud' arson attack in Co Tyrone is refused bail

The alleged leader of a gang accused of a "show of strength" arson attack at the home of a rival Polish faction in Co Tyrone must stay in custody, a High Court judge ruled today.

Marcim Wachowski was refused bail amid claims that he organised a dozen men to cross the border in a convoy of cars and then break into the property as five of their compatriots hid upstairs.

Raiders were armed with baseball bats and knives for the attack being linked to a suspected drugs feud, prosecutors alleged.

Wachowski, 27, of Elmfield, Dublin, faces charges of arson with intent to endanger life and aggravated burglary with intent to commit unlawful damage and attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm.

Eleven men were detained by police who stopped three BMW cars following the incident at Springdale, Dungannon on September 27.

Police had earlier put out a fire at the property following a 999 call from the occupants.

It was claimed that a gang of Polish men armed with weapons had broken through a back door and tried to get upstairs.

A twelfth intruder was hit on the head with a golf club as he attempted the ascent and later taken to hospital.

The intruders then ransacked the house and lit a fire in the hallway, throwing clothes and a television set on the blaze before leaving, the court heard.

Inquiries revealed the cars had allegedly travelled from the Irish Republic into Dungannon to target the house.

A prosecution barrister said the attack is being linked to a drug-related dispute between rival gangs.

She claimed that following an incident the previous week Wachowski "gathered his friends and asked another friend to gather friends to go up to this property to make a show of strength" .

The barrister told the court he is seen as the "main player or organiser".

Defence counsel Barry Gibson questioned the strength of the evidence used to back the charges.

He said one of the alleged victims has now admitted lighting a towel and throwing it over a banister as the men were gathered downstairs.

Mr Gibson also disputed prosecution claims that an assortment of weapons were brought to the scene, telling the court that only half a baseball bat was referred to.

"It was not a case where policed recovered a cache of weapons including knives and baseball bats," he said.

But refusing bail, Mr Justice Horner cited the risks of re-offending, failure to attend trial and interference with the investigation.

The judge said: "It still remains the fact that this was a very serious incident, and also that the applicant in this case is seen as being the ringleader."

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