Belfast Telegraph

Elderly man tackles masked intruder in Fermanagh home, court told

Belfast High Court
Belfast High Court

By Alan Erwin

A 79-year-old man returning from church tackled a masked intruder he discovered in his rural Co Fermanagh home, the High Court heard today.

Prosecutors said the pensioner managed to rip fingertips off the trespasser's rubber gloves, with subsequent DNA tests confirming a match to the man charged with the burglary.

Silvester Crumlish, of O'Kane Park in Omagh, is accused of stealing a £200 gold watch during the break-in on November 30 last year.

Refusing bail to the 31-year-old, Mr Justice Maguire said: "This offence is of a particularly heinous variety."

Crown lawyer Johnny Connolly said the victim and his 77-year-old wife came back from an evening church service to discover cleaning products scattered in the hall of their bungalow at Rocorn in Belleek.

A masked man then emerged from the couple's bedroom and tried to run past the couple.

"Bravely (the husband) grabbed this male and in the process he ripped two fingertips from the rubber gloves the male was wearing," Mr Connolly said.

The raider, who managed to escape, is believed to have used a screwdriver to gain entry through a bedroom window.

Forensic tests resulted in Crumlish's DNA being found on the pieces of glove, the court heard.

Defence counsel accepted a prima facie case has been established against his client.

According to the judge, however, "strong" evidence links Crumlish to the burglary.

As he denied bail, Mr Justice Maguire stressed the need to protect other vulnerable members of the public.

He said: "This was an elderly man and his wife coming back from Mass in a rural area, and finding somebody had invaded their house.

"(The man) rightly or wrongly tackled him. It may not have been the wisest thing for him to have done, faced with a younger man."

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