Belfast Telegraph

Boy (13) joined dad for pensioner burglary spree, court hears

The boy appeared before Belfast High Court on Thursday
The boy appeared before Belfast High Court on Thursday

By Alan Erwin

A 13-year-old boy is suspected of joining his father to burgle nine elderly victims, the High Court has heard.

He is being investigated for allegedly striking one 86-year-old man in the face with a wrench, prosecutors said.

Details emerged as the boy was readmitted to bail on a series of unrelated charges, including the sexual assault of a schoolgirl in an underground car park.

The youth, who cannot be identified, is accused of touching the 13-year-old girl repeatedly during an incident in Portadown, Co Armagh in January.

A further alleged confrontation days later was said to have left her too frightened to go back to the town.

According to the prosecution the boy first approached her in a car park at the town's High Street Mall.

A previous court heard the girl claimed he said: "Come on, let's just have a one-off."

She alleged the boy put his hand inside her leggings a number of times, despite being pushed away.

Defence lawyers described it as attempted kissing amid a group of teenagers socialising, and denied he had put his hand inside leggings onto her skin.

It was claimed, however, that three days later he approached her again in the town centre to ask why she had been spreading rumours about him.

Amid fears he was going to hit her the girl phoned her mother and remained in toilets until she was collected, the court was told.

The boy faces further charges, including intimidation of a witness and common assault.

He was released on bail in March, but is now under investigation for a spate of separate suspected crimes at undisclosed locations in Northern Ireland between May 7-13.

Crown lawyer Iryna Kennedy said he is to be interviewed on suspicion of being involved with his father.

"These offences are nine burglaries on elderly people... and one robbery," she disclosed.

"One was particularly nasty where an 86-year-old man was allegedly hit on the face (by the youth) with a wrench."

The boy has not been charged with any of the break-ins, but the prosecution cited concerns that he poses a serious risk of harm.

Claiming he had skipped school on occasions, counsel said he appeared to be under the influence of drugs when located on one occasion.

She added: "When arrested having run away from his mother he had a condom in his pocket."

Mrs Kennedy further contended that the boy had called a judge names and threatened to burgle his house during an earlier Magistrates' Court appearance.

Defence barrister Conor Byrne argued that his client should be given a chance to live at secure accommodation.

Granting bail to that home, Mr Justice Huddleston ordered the boy to abide by its rules and banned him from leaving unaccompanied.

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