Belfast Telegraph

Burglaries at four elderly women's homes among 20 separate incidents in 72-hour crime spree, court hears

By Alan Erwin

Burglaries at the homes of four elderly women were among 20 separate incidents in a 72-hour crime spree, the High Court heard today.

Raiders ransacked houses across County Down and also targeted commercial premises and a youth club, prosecutors said.

Two men allegedly behind the blitz were said to have been arrested in a 4x4 vehicle towing a caravan stolen from one property.

Details emerged as one of the accused was refused bail.

John Connors faces a total of 30 charges, including multiple counts of burglary, attempted theft, going equipped for theft and possession of an offensive weapon.

The 35-year-old farm labourer, from Laire in Kilcock, Co Kildare, was detained with his co-accused in Rostrevor on January 23.

Prosecution counsel Conor Maguire confirmed the charges against Connors relate to 20 different reports to police in the three days up to his arrest.

In one alleged break-in at Killeavy a purse containing £75 was stolen from the home of an 80-year-old woman.

The same day another pensioner of the same age had her house at Hilltown ransacked while she was out, taking her credit union book.

Another pensioner in Rostrevor had approximately £900 stolen, according to Mr Maguire.

Within 24 hours a lady in her late 70s was said to have confronted an intruder, striking him on the head after he came through her front door in Annalong.

Other domestic burglaries and attempted thefts were carried out in Newcastle, Saintfield, Banbridge, Katesbridge and Ballynahinch, the court heard.

Electronic equipment including a laptop, camera, iPod and iPhone were all taken.

A youth club in Kilkeel had Playstation and Xbox games consoles stolen from it, according to the prosecution.

Those systems were recovered from the 4x4 towing the caravan stolen in Rostrevor.

Opposing Connors' release, Mr Maguire said: "It's the prosecution contention that given this was a crime spree over a period of days, if the applicant is admitted to bail he's a real risk of re-offending."

He revealed that the co-accused absconded after gaining temporary release and remains at large.

It was also claimed that Connors has been using a number of different identities.

Joe Brolly, defending, argued that only three of the incidents have any evidential link to his client.

He described Connors as a settled member of the Traveller community and a father of seven.

Connors was merely a drunken passenger at the time of his arrest, it was claimed.

"This is a very weak circumstantial case," Mr Brolly contended.

But refusing bail, Lord Justice Coghlin rejected a proposal for Connors to live at a property in Newry.

He added: "It would be far better to try and get an address further into Northern Ireland."

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