Belfast Telegraph

East Belfast petrol bomb attack 'was random', court hears

Keith Crooks appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court on Wednesday (stock photo)
Keith Crooks appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court on Wednesday (stock photo)

By Alan Erwin

A Belfast man's home was subjected to a random petrol bomb attack in broad daylight, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors said the consequences could have been "very grave" if the device had smashed through the window of his flat on the outskirts of east Belfast.

Keith Crooks, 30, is accused of carrying out the attack in the Ballybeen estate, Dundonald on September 1.

Crooks, of New Line Crescent in Killinchy, Co Down, faces charges of attempted arson endangering life and throwing a petrol bomb.

He is further accused of common assault on a neighbour who witnessed the incident at Dungoyne Park.

During a bail hearing Crown lawyer Conor Maguire said the attack was carried out in mid-afternoon while children and other members of the public were in the area.

CCTV footage seized by police shows a male ignite a petrol bomb and throw it with "significant force" at the first floor flat, the court was told.

The device bounced off the window and burned out in the front garden.

Mr Maguire claimed the petrol bomber fled, but then turned back to remonstrate with a neighbour he tried to punch.

Crooks, whose mother lives less than a mile away, is allegedly linked by a mobile phone found at the scene.

According to the prosecution the phone contained photos of the accused, including some of him holding either a hawk or another bird of prey.

Forensic tests are also being carried out on a vodka bottle used to make the petrol bomb.

Prosecution counsel said Crooks is not believed to have any connections to the man whose home was hit.

"Police are of the view this was a random attack," Mr Maguire added.

"If this petrol bomb had smashed through the window the consequences could have been very different, and very grave."

Kelly Doherty, defending, told the court her client previously received help from a mental health team.

Agreeing to adjourn the bail application for further checks, Mr Justice Huddleston stressed the need for a "network of support both professional and family-orientated".

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