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'Armed raiders tied up Belfast elderly couple and threatened to cut off son's fingers', court told


Police said a petrol station worker had just minor injuries after a robber fired a bullet at his stomach

Police said a petrol station worker had just minor injuries after a robber fired a bullet at his stomach

Police said a petrol station worker had just minor injuries after a robber fired a bullet at his stomach

Armed raiders tied up an elderly couple and threatened to cut off their son's fingers, the High Court heard today.

The man and woman, aged 82 and 76, were forced onto the floor at gunpoint after three intruders burst into their home demanding money and access to a safe, prosecutors said.

The robbers attacked their son, ransacked the property just outside south Belfast and stole a Mercedes car.

It was only because the woman was so frail and thin that she eventually managed to free herself and alert police.

Details emerged as bail was refused to one of the men accused of carrying out the raid.

Kieran Smyth, 53, of Springfield Avenue, Belfast, faces charges of armed robbery, possession of a firearm and another weapon with intent, three counts of false imprisonment, aggravated vehicle taking and threats to kill.

He was arrested after police pursued the car taken during the raid at Drumalig Road, Carryduff on September 11.

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Three masked men, one brandishing a gun, rushed at the father and son as they returned home from working in the family shop, the court heard.

They shouted either "UVF" or "UDA" and demanded: "Where's the money, we want the safe."

Prosecution counsel Conor Maguire said they then forced into the kitchen where the 76-year-old woman was preparing dinner and ordered all three victims onto the ground.

"One of the males who appeared to be the leader pointed a handgun in the direction of them as they lay on the floor and he directed the 82-year-old gentleman be taken to another room," the barrister said.

"A kitchen knife was taken from a drawer and one of the men threatened to cut off the son's fingers."

The older man took one of the intruders down to a basement and handed over up to £2,000 in cash.

Both him and his wife were then made to lie down in the dining room with their feet and wrists bound, a judge was told.

Their son was repeatedly punched about the head and ribs before his wallet, a Rolex watch and several hundred pounds was taken from him.

He too was tied up by the gang who then discovered a safe and smashed it open with an axe.

"As they were leaving the property they set about ripping the telephone lines and told the family the house was being watched," Mr Maguire said.

The raiders escaped in the woman's Mercedes car.

The barrister added: "Police say it was as a result of her frailty and thinness of her arms that she was able to release herself from the ties."

Once assured the men had gone she freed her husband and son and phoned the PSNI on her mobile.

Within minutes police spotted and pursued her car in the Upper Malone area.

The vehicle was reversed at speed at officers as they got out to speak to the men inside, it was claimed.

Although Smyth and a co-accused were arrested near the scene a third occupant escaped and remains at large, the court heard.

The Rolex watch, cash and tie clips were recovered. However, the gun allegedly used in the robbery was not found.

Richard Greene, defending, accepted there is a prima facie case against his client but argued that bail should be granted because of potential delays in dealing with forensic evidence.

But Mr Justice Horner refused the application based on the risk of re-offending or interfering with witnesses.

The judge added: "There is no doubt that what took place on September 11 was a violent, dastardly attack on two elderly people and their son who were at their family home."

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