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Man accused of fire engine rampage in Larne has made 'partial admissions', court is told

By Nevin Farrell

Published 26/08/2016

The stolen fire engine left a trail of destruction in its wake as it careered through the streets of Larne
The stolen fire engine left a trail of destruction in its wake as it careered through the streets of Larne

There have been "partial admissions" from one of two men charged after a stolen fire engine was driven through Larne, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, a court heard yesterday.

Robert Duffin and Ross Clarke, both from the Co Antrim town, are charged in connection with the alleged rampage in March this year.

Duffin (66), of Green Link, and Clarke (19), of Fairway, are on bail and were excused from attending the latest hearing of their case at Ballymena Magistrates' Court yesterday.

Clarke's defence barrister, Neil Moore, said the case involved "the theft of the local fire engine in Larne". He said "substantial damage" was caused during the incident on March 5 this year, and he imagined the prosecution file would be fairly large.

A prosecutor said the intention is to have the case dealt with at the Crown Court.

She said there had been "partial admissions" by one of the accused, but not the other, but gave no details.

An update is due to be given to the court in the next few weeks, and the case was adjourned until September.

Earlier this year, the same court was told that the stolen fire engine was allegedly driven by Clarke, who has a "severe learning disability". It was also alleged by Mr Moore at a March hearing that Clarke had never driven a vehicle before and that accounted for him trying to reverse the engine back into Larne Fire Station and crashing into a wall, causing severe damage.

During the alleged rampage, the fire engine careered out of control at Larne's Glenarm Road, causing damage to eight vehicles and six homes. It was found embedded in the front of a house.

Clarke faces 14 charges, including burglary and dangerous driving.

Duffin has been charged with five offences, including burglary and aggravated vehicle taking causing damage to property.

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