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Wheelchair man 'held in a headlock by burglar'

By Eamonn MacDermott

Three people have appeared in court accused of breaking into the home of an "extremely vulnerable" disabled man.

Catriona Johnston, of Dunvale Close, Londonderry, is charged with burglary, common assault and possessing cannabis.

Tanya Murray (28) and her boyfriend, 27-year-old John Paul Gormley, of Clooney Terrace, are also charged with burglary.

Murray is further charged with obstructing police.

The charges relate to an incident in Donal Casey Court in Derry in the early hours of February 12.

Derry Magistrates Court heard yesterday the injured party phoned police to report his home was being broken into. A disturbance was heard in the background and the line was dropped.

Police attended and saw that a window had been smashed.

The alleged injured party, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair, told police that Johnston and two other people had broken in.

He said he had been placed into a headlock by Johnston before his laptop was stolen.

The three defendants were stopped by police a short distance away.

Johnston was searched and the laptop was found inside her coat. She was also found to be in possession of cannabis.

The 29-year-old was cautioned and replied: "He has pictures of me on that laptop, that is why I took it from the house."

During police interview Johnston made full admissions to the burglary and assault.

She denied breaking the window to gain entry.

Murray was also cautioned, and allegedly told Johnston: "Just say nothing, I'm getting arrested for something you did."

The court heard she gave officers her sister's name and was further arrested for obstructing police.

During interview Murray claimed she had met up with Johnston after the incident. Gormley claimed he could not remember anything.

Police opposed bail over fears the defendants would interfere with the witness.

An investigating officer told the court the complainant was a "very vulnerable" man and police also had concerns about further offences.

All three defendants were released on bail and banned from having any contact with the alleged injured party.

They are also banned from going within 200 metres of his home.

The trio will appear in court again on March 9.

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