East Belfast apartment block top floor destroyed by fire was location for so-called 'party houses', court hears
An east Belfast apartment block top floor destroyed by fire was the location for so-called "party houses", a court heard today.
The claim was made as two men were remanded into custody charged with arson with intent to endanger life following the weekend blaze at Dunlop House in The Mount area.
Gerard McCrory, 32, and Daniel Rhodes, 20, are also jointly accused of burglary offences.
The top level of the apartment complex, which used for supported housing, was gutted in the early hours of Saturday morning.
As the two defendants appeared together in the dock at Belfast Magistrates' Court a judge was told they are blaming each other for what happened.
McCrory, of Verner Street in the city, denies charges of arson and stealing a purse, £20 and a TV stand in burglaries.
He did not seek bail and was remanded in custody to appear again at the end of the month.
An investigating detective then opposed the release application mounted by Rhodes, of Colvil Street in Belfast.
The officer claimed he may attempt to interfere with witnesses in the case.
Defence barrister Sean Mullan stressed that his client also denied the offences throughout police interviews.
Mr Mullan put to the detective: "At the top of this apartment complex there would be what is known as party houses.
"On the night in question there were at least two parties ongoing."
The officer agreed that a number had been taking place.
It was contended that unlike his co-accused, Rhodes had not changed his clothes by the time he was arrested.
His lawyer added: "He denies setting fire at any stage, but stated he had a fire extinguisher because he was messing about."
But refusing bail, District Judge Fiona Bagnall decided there was a risk of witness interference.
She remanded Rhodes in custody to appear again with McCrory on October 30.