Belfast Telegraph

Gang 'threatened to slice off fingers'

By Alan Erwin

Armed raiders tied up an elderly couple and threatened to cut off their son's fingers, the High Court has heard.

The man and woman, aged 82 and 76, were forced on to the floor at gunpoint after three intruders burst in to their home demanding money and access to a safe, prosecutors said. The robbers ransacked the property outside south Belfast and stole a Mercedes car.

Details emerged as bail was refused to one of the men accused of carrying out the raid.

Kieran Smyth (53), of Springfield Avenue, Belfast, faces charges of armed robbery, possession of a firearm and another weapon with intent, three counts of false imprisonment, aggravated vehicle taking and threats to kill.

He was arrested after police pursued the car taken during the raid at Drumalig Road, Carryduff, on September 11. Three masked men, one with a gun, rushed at the father and son as they returned home from working in the family shop, the court heard.

They shouted either "UVF" or "UDA" and demanded: "Where's the money, we want the safe."

Prosecution counsel Conor Maguire said they went into the kitchen where the woman was preparing dinner and ordered all three victims onto the ground.

"A kitchen knife was taken from a drawer and one man threatened to cut off the son's fingers."

The older man took one intruder to a basement and handed over up to £2,000 in cash. Both he and his wife were made to lie down in the dining room with their feet and wrists bound, a judge heard.

Their son was repeatedly punched about the head and ribs before his wallet, a Rolex watch and several hundred pounds was taken from him.

He too was tied up by the gang who then discovered a safe and smashed it open with an axe.

The raiders escaped in the woman's Mercedes car.

The barrister added: "Police say it was as a result of her frailty and thinness of her arms that she was able to release herself."

Once assured the men had gone, she freed her husband and son and phoned the PSNI.

Smyth and his co-accused were arrested near the scene, the court heard.

Richard Greene, defending, accepted there was a prima facie case against his client but argued that bail should be granted because of potential delays in dealing with forensic evidence.

But Mr Justice Horner refused the application.

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