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Accused faces 32 charges over city's 'night of mayhem'

By Eamonn MacDermott

A court has been told about "a night of absolute mayhem" which saw vehicles stolen, shots fired and a gun put to the head of a 12-year-old.

The comments came during a court appearance by Christopher O'Reilly (22) of Glenabbey Drive in Londonderry, who faces a total of 32 charges relating to alleged incidents in the Galliagh and Shantallow areas of the city earlier this week.

The charges against O'Reilly include possession of a firearm, attempted hijacking, aggravated burglary and theft, possession of a machete, making a threat to kill, aggravated vehicle taking and driving offences.

Two other men who were arrested in connection with the same alleged incidents on November 18 remain in police custody.

The court heard that there were reports of two men being seen with "metal-type objects" on that afternoon before going into 22-year-old O'Reilly's flat.

A short time later a report was received that three men were fighting in the street and one of these was allegedly identified as O'Reilly.

A woman who was said to have intervened in the fight was grabbed by the throat.

The officer said that an altercation was also alleged to have taken place inside O'Reilly's flat and he was seen lying on the staircase.

As he was being helped inside his flat by a man it was alleged that another person inside held a samurai sword to this man's throat.

The court was told that police believed O'Reilly then left his flat with two others and they went in the direction of Amelia Court where it was claimed a house was attacked and O'Reilly was also alleged to have produced a gun and handed it to another man.

Shortly after this a car was allegedly stolen from the Drumleck Gardens area.

The court also heard about an incident at the Galliagh Co-Op where glass bottles were used to attack members of staff and the public. A car owned by a security guard was also damaged.

Following this it was claimed that the men broke into houses in Rossnagalliagh and the Galliagh Park areas.

The officer said that during the second break-in it is believed a handgun was produced and the intruders demanded car keys from the occupant. A young child was in the property at the time.

A handgun was reportedly used during another attempted hijacking and the court heard allegations of a further attempted hijacking in Earhart Park.

In another incident a house was broken into and a gun was pointed at a woman's head.

Her eight-year-old son was believed to be in the property at the time and the woman told police she "believed she was going to die".

The police officer said that in an incident in the Ardnamoyle Park area, a gun was pointed at the head of a 12-year-old boy before an attempted hijacking and a shot was fired after the car owner chased the alleged hijackers.

The officer said that people were put in fear for their lives and the firearm was used to "intimidate innocent members of the community".

Opposing bail, the investigating officer said police believed O'Reilly was among those responsible for a "sustained and unprovoked attack on the community. Extreme fear was caused and a firearm was used to intimidate members of the community".

Defence solicitor Seamus Quigley said the allegations were of a "night of absolute mayhem and potential carnage".

However, he said his client made the case during interview that he left the company of the other men "before the mayhem ensued" and had provided an alibi. Deputy District Judge Oonagh Mullan refused bail.

O'Reilly is due to appear again via videolink on December 11.

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