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Burglary suspects ‘tried to flee police by leaping in river’

TWO alleged burglars jumped into a Co Antrim river in a bid to escape police, the High Court has heard.

Both were still soaking wet when later arrested, with one detained while riding a child's bike through a caravan park, a prosecution lawyer said.

Details emerged as bail was refused to one of the men accused of targeting separate Spar stores in Cushendall and Martinstown, near Ballymena.

Mark McClean (27), with an address at Westland Park, Ballywalter, Co Down, is charged with burglary and theft and burglary with intent to steal. Both alleged offences were committed in the early hours of June 9.

A Crown barrister said the front shutter of the store in Martinstown had been ripped off and goods stolen from inside.

Police were also alerted to an attempt to break into a Spar shop in Cushendall on the same night.

The court was told that as officers went to the scene two men were seen jumping into a river which led to a nearby beach. McClean was later stopped and arrested as he walked along a path in soaked clothes, according to the prosecution.

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“Mark McClean alleged that he was out for a walk, that he just started walking and kept walking from his home,” the prosecuting lawyer said.

She told the court his co-accused was then discovered in a caravan park cycling on a child's bike.

“His clothing was also soaked through,” she said.

McClean's barrister, Michael Boyd, said the accused had returned to Northern Ireland four months ago after spending time in England and could stay on bail with his aunt and uncle.

“I accept on the applicant's behalf there is a case against him. He makes clear that he denies involvement,” Mr Boyd added.

The judge agreed that a prima facie case has been established against McClean.

Refusing bail, Mr Justice Hart held that there was a risk the accused would not comply with conditions or reoffend.

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