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Teens in court charged with stealing £36k worth of clothes in ram-raid burglary at Emporio Fashion Boutique

By Alan Erwin

Published 28/09/2015

Three teenagers appeared in court today charged with stealing £36,000 worth of clothes in a ram-raid burglary on a south Belfast fashion store.

The accused, aged 15, 17 and 18, allegedly went on a city-wide crime spree after two cars were stolen on Friday night.

Police also revealed investigations are being carried out into previous raids on stores in the Lisburn Road area.

The three defendants are charged with four separate burglaries, aggravated vehicle taking and failing to report or stop at an accident.

They were arrested after a serious road crash in the Cliftonville Drive area on Saturday morning.

Eighteen-year-old Shane Paul Duffy, of Ladymar Park in Belfast, entered the dock at the city's Magistrates Court to have the alleged offences put to him.

His two co-accused remained in the main body of the court because of their ages.

At one stage all three giggled and exchanged remarks as the charges were read out, with prison guards urging the younger pair to stop laughing.

Police said the cars had been stolen in the Holywood area just outside Belfast.

One vehicle was used to drive through the shop window of the fashion shop on Lislea Avenue before stock was stolen from inside.

According to the charges clothing to the value of £36,000 was stolen.

Other alleged burglaries were carried out at homes in the city where a laptop, safe, mobile phone, handbag and car keys were stolen.

Duffy did not seek bail and was remanded into custody to appear again in a week's time.

Opposing the younger two's applications for release from custody, a PSNI constable claimed their alleged offences were more than just random acts of stealing.

"There was an element of premeditation to this," she told the court.

"Both cars travelled in tandem, one was used to ram-raid the fashion shop and police are also investigating other incidents on the Lisburn Road in the last month."

None of the three defendants are charged with any previous burglaries on commercial premises in the area.

However, the officer claimed the youths could re-offend if they were granted bail.

Describing how the car crash involved a head-on collision, she added: "We believe there's a huge risk to the public due to the recklessness of the actions over the weekend."

Police are still looking for a fourth suspect to got away from the scene of the crash, the court heard.

During cross-examination the constable confirmed there is no forensic evidence at this stage.

Denying bail to the 17-year-old, District Judge Fiona Bagnall held there was a strong likelihood of further offences being committed.

As he was remanded back into custody to appear again on October 20, the accused directed a stream of verbal abuse at Mrs Bagnall.

Bail was granted, however, to the 15-year-old based on his clear record.

Defence counsel John O'Connor claimed the schoolboy was "easily led".

The barrister added: "He's not of the highest level of intelligence."

Judge Bagnall ordered him to abide by a nighttime curfew and wear an electronic tag.

He was also banned from having any contact with his co-accused.

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