Belfast Telegraph

Gun pulled on man by 'INLA men' for taking family member to Rangers bar, court told

Two men allegedly said they were the 'INLA' and pulled a pistol on a man who was beaten in Coleraine after being accused of taking a person to a "Rangers bar", a court heard on Saturday.

Simon Robert James Fleming (43), of Somerset Drive and Brendan Joseph Letters (35), of Killowen Street, both Coleraine, appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Saturday.

They are both charged with aggravated burglary with intent to commit grievous bodily harm whilst having a pistol; possession of a firearm - a pistol - with intent to cause fear of violence and intimidation of the injured man.

Letters alone is further charged with making a threat to kill the man and making a threat to damage the man's mother's property.

The charges follow an aggravated burglary in the Drumtarsey area of Coleraine on Thursday.

Both men appeared in the court in handcuffs as a number of people looked on from the public gallery including a man with facial injuries.

A police officer said he believed he could connect both accused to the charges.

The officer said that on Thursday afternoon police received a report that a man was assaulted at his home and that he was attending hospital.

The officer said it was first reported to police that the accused men had entered the man's home armed with a "handgun" and carried out an assault.

The injured party told police he answered the door and Letters pushed him back into the flat.

The court heard Letters had allegedly taken exception to the man taking a member of Letters' family to a "Rangers bar".

The officer said the man said he was assaulted by Letters and a gun was produced by Fleming.

The policeman said threats had been made against the man's family as to what would happen if he contacted police and they questioned what he was doing living in The Heights area of Coleraine and said he wasn't welcome there.

During the incident, the officer told the court, it was alleged the men said they were from the "INLA" and the injured party was referred to as an "Orange b*stard".

The injured man was fearful to return to the property, said the policeman.

The officer said that during police interviews the men claimed they had gone to the flat for a drink and an argument had ensued about a person being taken to the "Rangers bar".

The policeman said the injured party was not friends with the defendants.

The court was told a "councillor" had first contacted police about the attack.

Defence solicitor Derwin Harvey denied the men had any association with paramilitaries.

He said: "The police would describe them as 'two chancers'. I think the height of their 'paramilitary activity' might be drunken episodes, in Celtic tops, shouting and roaring".

The police officer said he was concerned about possible interference with witnesses.

Mr Harvey said he was not ignoring the severity of the charges but said the injured man had a black eye and a cut above his eye but yet had claimed he was subjected to a sustained 45-minute long assault when he was screaming for help in a built-up area and had alleged a gun was pulled "in his face".

District Judge Liam McNally said he was not granting bail until witnesses were interviewed but Mr Harvey said police had not identified any witnesses at that stage.

Judge McNally remanded the men in custody to appear back in court on December 17 and said if they were to be released later they would need a bail address outside Coleraine.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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