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Convicted rapist broke his ankle jumping from a first floor window to escape armed intruders, court hears

By Alan Erwin

Published 06/04/2016

A convicted rapist broke his ankle jumping from a first floor window to escape armed intruders as part of a suspected drugs feud, the High Court heard today.

Prosecutors claimed four men entered the flat in Ballynahinch, Co Down last month carrying a gun, bladed weapon and crowbar.

Threats were also allegedly made to "put a bullet through the heads" of their target, his partner and her baby unless £2,500 was provided in 24 hours, a judge was told.

Details emerged as two of the accused were granted bail based on reasons including the withdrawal of witness statements.

Paul Braniff (52) of Ballymurphy Parade in Belfast, and 22-year-old John Tyson Doherty, from Windmill Park, Ballynahinch, are jointly charged with aggravated burglary with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm.

The pair are also accused of carrying a firearm or imitation firearm, and possession of an offensive weapon, namely a pole with a knife attached to it.

Braniff faces a further count of making a threat to kill, while Doherty is additionally charged with having a small quantity of cannabis.

It was claimed they were among a group of four men who forced their way into a flat at Loughside Drive in Ballynahinch on March 21.

The alleged target, who is known to police, said he tried to get a knife from the kitchen but was ordered back, the court heard.

According to prosecuting counsel Stephanie Boyd the man made his escape once one of the group mentioned getting a gun out.

"At that point the injured party jumped out the living room window," she said.

"It was a first floor window, causing a fracture to his ankle."

His partner claimed she encountered some of the men the same night, being told he was a thief for allegedly stealing grass and £1,000, Mrs Boyd added.

The barrister continued: "She makes a complaint that Braniff stated 'You get £2,500 up in 24 hours or you, your fella and the baby will get a bullet through the head."

Opposing bail, she said: "It appears this is a feud over drugs."

It was confirmed however that three witnesses have withdrawn their statements, with a fourth indicating a similar intention.

Joe Brolly, defending, stressed there was no suggestion of coercion.

He also described the injured party as "a truly notorious person" whose criminal record includes a conviction for rape.

"Whatever way you look at it, this case is doomed," Mr Brolly contended.

Acknowledging the withdrawal of witness statements, Madam Justice McBride said the Crown are facing difficulties.

She granted bail for both accused to live at an agreed address and banned them from entering Ballynahinch

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