Bail refused for Nathan Phair accused of burglary at home of OAP (95)
A judge has slammed the "cruel, heartless" targeting of elderly people in burglaries.
He was speaking after refusing bail for a man charged with breaking into the home of a 95-year-old woman who is partially sighted and has impaired hearing.
Nathan Phair (22), of Castlebalfour Park, Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh, is charged with entering the victim's home as a trespasser on August 27 last year and stealing £200.
He appeared before Dungannon Magistrates Court, where a detective constable said he believed the charge could be connected.
Objecting to bail, the detective said the victim was in bed when she vaguely heard a disturbance in her home. At first she put this down to the pipes settling down, however the noise went on for some 90 minutes. She decided to check and on opening her bedroom door observed a male coming down a flight of stairs from the attic.
He fled the scene and police were called.
Entry had been gained by smashing a downstairs window and the house was completely ransacked. The victim discovered £200 was missing.
Officers recovered a glove and a footprint, both of which were sent for analysis. DNA matching Phair's was found on the glove, and the footprint was linked to a previous incident in which he was involved.
Efforts to arrest Phair proved difficult and he was described as actively evading police.
The detective said: "Bail is strongly opposed as the accused has 18 previous convictions of which four are for dishonesty offences. He has a previous conviction for targeting an elderly man in his own home who was assaulted and a fire deliberately started causing damage.
"Likewise, he has been linked to the break-in of Moat Primary School in Lisnaskea from where 40 iPads were stolen. We feel, if released, the defendant may reoffend or prove elusive to police."
He advised Phair was recently seriously injured in a traffic accident and it was thought this would "curtail his behaviour".
However, despite this and while being on bail for other matters, Phair was caught in a stolen vehicle on November 27.
A defence solicitor argued his client was a suitable candidate for bail, who should be afforded the presumption of innocence, and suggested he was released to the home of his grandmother.
He emphasised there were no witnesses in the burglary as the victim could not clearly see who was in her home.
District Judge John Meehan said: "I am not addressing innocence or guilt. It has been shown there is reasonable cause to subject the defendant committed the offence. One has a deep concern, particularly after the unhappy news of elderly persons being targeted in their own homes.
"Such offences are cruel, heartless attacks."
Throwing out the application, Judge Meehan concluded: "Bail must be refused. Elderly, vulnerable people are being targeted on the expectation they will be unable to give evidence. They must be protected. There is also a danger of others being made victims."
Phair was remanded in custody to appear by video-link at Fermanagh Magistrates Court on February 19.