Belfast Telegraph

Pair ‘carried out brazen cross-border farm raids’

A farmer was threatened with a sledgehammer in one of a series of “audacious” cross-border ram-raids on isolated homes, the High Court in Belfast heard yesterday.

Prosecutors claimed two men targeted properties around Armagh, breaking through gates to steal lawnmowers and other equipment.

One of the suspects, John Paul Ward, of Townley Meadows, Tullyallen, Drogheda, Louth, faces 37 charges over the alleged two-day crime spree at the end of July.

The 21-year-old is accused of multiple counts of criminal damage, theft and burglary, possession of an offensive weapon and motoring offences.

He is further charged with hijacking, theft and common assault over a separate incident in Newry in March when a 14-year-old boy was allegedly dragged from his father's car. He denies all the charges against him. Conor Maguire, prosecuting, said that Ward's co-accused has absconded since being granted compassionate release for a family funeral last month.

Opposing Ward's bail application, Mr Maguire said in one incident a Middletown farmer returned home on July 31 to find a van parked there and the padlocks on his shed broken.

“The younger male, who is believed to be this applicant, threatened the injured party with a sledgehammer,” Mr Maguire said.

He added: “There's an element of professionalism about how these burglaries were carried out, given the nature of ramming the gates. They were done in a brazen way.”

Bail was refused.

Belfast Telegraph

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