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Emporio fashion store ram raid: Clothes left strewn along Belfast streets following burglary


Designer clothes from a £36,000 haul allegedly stolen by three teenagers in a ram-raid attack on a south Belfast boutique were found strewn along the city's streets, the High Court heard today.

Police suspect the boot had been left open on a getaway car used in the raid at Emporio fashion store off the Lisburn Road, prosecutors said.

A judge was also told the trio accused of going on a city-wide crime spree were detained following a collision with another motorist whose vehicle was flipped onto its roof.

Details emerged as bail was granted to a 17-year-old youth charged with four separate burglaries, aggravated vehicle taking and failing to report or stop at an accident.

He was allegedly also in possession of a flick knife when he was detained.

The charges relate to a spate of break-ins at homes and the commercial premises on September 25-26.

Ford Focus and Ford Puma cars were stolen from a house in the Holywood area just outside Belfast.

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Stephanie Boyd, prosecuting, said less than two hours later the Puma was rammed into the shutters at Emporio on Lislea Avenue.

That car was abandoned at the scene after the thieves seized 60 items of designer clothing, including some by Armani and valued at £600 each, the court heard.

According to Mrs Bord the Ford Focus was then spotted leaving the area.

"It was reported the boot was open as it made off and clothes taken in the robbery were found strewn along the road," she said.

"Police would say that's from the boot being left open."

As well as the stolen stock, the raid inflicted £15,000 worth of damage to the shop's shutters and windows.

Other alleged burglaries were carried out the same night at homes in the city where a laptop, safe, mobile phone, handbag and car keys were stolen.

The 17-year-old accused, who cannot be named because of his age, was arrested along with two others aged 15 and 18, following a road crash in the Cliftonville Drive area of north Belfast.

Police are still looking for a fourth suspect said to have fled from the scene of the accident.

A man driving a Hyundai car involved in the collision was taken to hospital with suspected whiplash.

Opposing bail, Mrs Boyd said: "He's lucky he wasn't more seriously injured given the way his vehicle ended up."

Defence counsel Sean O'Hare argued there was no evidence linking his client to any of the burglaries carried out hours before he was detained.

Contending that it could not be established how long the accused had been in the Ford Focus, he added: "To have 17 charges seems to be the police erring on the side of caution."

Lord Justice Weatherup, who was shown photographs of the crash scene, described it as "horrific... a dreadful sight."

He said the other motorist could have been killed.

But granting bail after hearing details of the teenager's family background, the judge ordered him to report to police daily and attend his college.

The accused must also participate in a youth centre car crime project and cannot travel in a private vehicle unless driven by his mother or a youth worker.

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