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Man accused of breaking into Belfast student flat after hearing voices, court hears

By Alan Erwin

Published 17/12/2015

A man accused of breaking into student accommodation armed with a knife claimed he had been hearing voices in his head, the High Court heard today.

William Hinton was "off his head" on drugs when he was allegedly involved in a violent confrontation at the south Belfast flats last month, a judge was told.

The 21-year-old faces charges of aggravated burglary, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and possession of an offensive weapon with intent.

Hinton, of Inverary Avenue in Belfast, was detained on November 1 after police were called to the Eglantine Avenue apartment block where four students are staying.

One of them, a female studying at Queen's University, had returned to hear whispering and shuffling sounds coming from a bedroom.

When her boyfriend, who was already in the flat, grabbed the door handle he could feel it being held on the other side, the court heard.

Conor Maguire, prosecuting, claimed two men were then spotted inside the bedroom, one carrying a large, serrated kitchen knife.

He said the couple struggled to keep the door closed before an object - believed to be a bedside lamp - was thrown at them.

A scuffle broke out after the intruders managed to exit the bedroom.

As Hinton was being led from the scene by police he allegedly told the boyfriend he was just trying to get some money,adding: "No hard feelings."

Mr Maguire claimed the accused and the second unidentified man broke in through a rear fire escape, bringing the knife with them.

He also revealed that while in custody Hinton stated: "I was hearing voices in my head and the door was open."

Defence counsel Declan Quinn said his client has no memory of the incident.

"He was, to use the vernacular, off his head," Mr Quinn told the court.

"I understand diazepam is the intoxicant of choice for this applicant."

The barrister set out Hinton's history of self-harm and a bereavement suffered when a friend took his own life.

"He's a young man with a vulnerable mental health background," he added.

But refusing bail, His Honour Judge Lynch pointed to the gravity of the charges.

He said: "Along with another person he allegedly entered premises with a weapon and they reacted violently when confronted by householders."

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