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Sex workers allegedly threatened at gunpoint during two south Belfast house raids, court told


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Sex workers were allegedly threatened at gunpoint during two separate raids on houses in south Belfast, the High Court heard today.

Intruders stole jewellery, mobile phones, car keys and more than £1,500 in cash after forcing their way into the women's homes last month, prosecutors said.

Details emerged as bail was refused to a 19-year-old man accused of taking part in the break-ins.

Mohamed Hassan, a Somali national of no fixed abode, faces charges of aggravated burglary, threats to kill and possessing a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence.

The court heard two Romanian women living at Olympia Drive were targeted on December 16.

Connel Trainor, prosecuting, said arrangements had been made by phone for an unidentified man to attend the property.

It was claimed that once the door was opened he forced his way inside and pointed a firearm at one of the women.

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She was held as two other men entered and searched the house, taking money, valuables and the keys to a BMW car.

A second raid was carried out on an address on Surrey Street in the early hours of December 22.

An unknown man using the same phone number was said to have arranged a similar visit to a woman at the house.

He left after staying for an hour, but returned a short time later with another two men.

One of them produced either a real or imitation gun and demanded money from the woman, according to the prosecution.

Mr Trainor contended: "The male with the firearm threatened to kill the victim while pointing it in her direction."

The trio then left with £1,500 in cash and mobile phones.

During the hearing more details were sought about the contact before the burglaries.

Referring to previous disclosures, defence barrister Declan Quinn said: "The Crown case is the injured parties in both these cases were sex workers, and that's how the arrangements came to be made."

Hassan is allegedly linked by his phone number being used in both raids.

He was arrested after being located in a "house of multiple occupancy" in north Belfast, where police recovered BMW car keys from a living room vase.

Denying involvement in the break-ins, he claimed a friend regularly borrows his mobile.

Mr Quinn argued that the height of the case against his client is his phone being used in the build-up to the burglaries.

"There is no identification evidence to place him at either scene," counsel insisted.

But refusing bail, Lord Justice Treacy cited the risk of further offences.

He added: "The applicant is charged with extremely serious offences involving the use of a firearm or intimation firearm... and the targeting of vulnerable females."

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