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Alleged blackmail victim 'had television dropped on his head'


Belfast High Court

Belfast High Court

Belfast High Court

An alleged blackmail victim had a television set dropped on his head as he lay in bed, the High Court heard today.

Police could hear his cries of pain in a 999 phone call made just as intruders broke into his home in Tandragee, Co Armagh, prosecutors said.

The victim, who suffered a fractured eye socket and cheekbone, had to undergo surgery for the facial injuries inflicted on him.

Details emerged as bail was refused to a man accused of carrying out the early morning attack.

James Gribben, 31, of Church View Villas, Gilford, Craigavon, faces charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and burglary with intent to commit grievous bodily harm.

He is further accused of demanding £1,000 from the victim with menaces. Gribben denies the offences.

The court heard two men forced their way into the victim's Drumnamether Road home by smashing a living room window on July 3.

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He woke and phoned police just as the intruders entered his bedroom.

Conor Maguire, prosecuting, said: "The 999 call recorded the assault taking place as he was lying in his bed.

"A voice was heard constantly crying out 'James, James, James, please, please, please, don't, don't'. The cries of pain could be constantly heard throughout the assault."

The victim had allegedly recognised Gribben immediately, according to the barrister.

Mr Maguire added: "(He) described to police that a flat-screen television was dropped on his head as he lay in his bed."

His nephew, who had been sleeping in another bedroom, then managed to defend himself before Gribben allegedly returned to further attack the victim.

It was claimed that the accused bit his arm during this assault.

The second intruder has yet to be identified but is not suspected of carrying out any physical violence, the court heard.

Opposing bail, Mr Maguire claimed efforts have been made to get the victim to withdraw his statement.

An unknown man with a Scottish accent allegedly phoned him last month and told him to drop the charges or he would be killed.

Defence counsel Michael Boyd accepted intimidation attempts appeared to have taken place but stressed that Gribben could not have been involved.

"He has been in custody since September and he knows nothing about any of the incidents described," Mr Boyd said.

"I accept there's a strong prima facie case against Mr Gribben, but he's entitled to a presumption of innocence and has made a formal denial of involvement in the incident."

But despite offering a new address in Belfast and a £3,000 cash surety Gribben's renewed application for bail was denied.

Mr Justice Burgess ruled that it was still not enough to overturn a previous decision to keep Gribben in custody.

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