Belfast Telegraph

Bishop ‘confronted intruder in early morning burglary’

A man who broke into the Bishop of Derry’s home in the early hours stood at his bedroom door and asked him for the way out before walking off with a clutch of his possessions, a court has heard.

Londonderry Magistrates Court heard yesterday how the Bishop of Derry Dr Seamus Hegarty confronted the intruder at his home in Buncrana Road in the early hours of Friday morning.

The detective sergeant gave his evidence when Declan Devine (32), from Bloomfield Park in the Galliagh area of Derry, appeared at a special sitting of the city's Magistrates Court charged with entering the bishop's house as a trespasser and stealing numerous personal items. The defendant, who denies the charge, has more than 70 previous convictions.

The police witness told District Judge John Meehan that Bishop Hegarty made a 999 call at 5.22am last Friday to report an intruder in his home. In a statement, the bishop said he woke up at dawn and saw a man standing at his bedroom door holding what the believed was a weapon in his hand.

The intruder spoke to the Bishop asking him “How do I get out?”, the officer said.

“Bishop Hegarty followed him into a room off his bedroom and told him to leave by the back door, which the intruder did”, he added.

The detective sergeant said that among the items stolen from the bishop's house were a set of rosary beads, a bag with the bishop's initials on it, and the bishop's wallet and watch.

Several hours later the police received a call from a local resident who reported a small fire smouldering between his St John's Park home and the bishop's house. The police recovered the bishop's credit cards from the fire.

The officer said that based on intelligence information two addresses, one the defendant's home, were searched. Inside the defendant's home the police found several of the stolen items.

The witness said that he opposed the defendant being granted bail because of his extensive criminal record.

Applying for bail defence solicitor Seamus Quigley said no identification parade had been carried out by the police and he said that the Bishop's description of the intruder's facial appearance did not match the defendant.

District Judge Meehan released the defendant on his own bail of £400 to appear in court again on September 23.

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