Belfast Telegraph

Intruder who entered hotel with knife claimed he was there to start work, court hears

By Alan Erwin

An intruder challenged in a hotel while allegedly carrying a knife and wearing a chef's hat and apron claimed he was there to start work, the High Court heard on Friday.

Prosecutors also said the words "IRA hahaha" were daubed in blood-smeared graffiti in a locker room broken into at the Glenavon House in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.

Jamie McCann, 21, is accused of carrying out the raid and, in a separate incident, threatening to set himself and a filling station on fire with a petrol pump.

Granting him bail, a judge ruled that his drug and mental health problems could be better dealt with outside custody.

McCann, of Mount Carmel Heights in Strabane, faces charges of burglary, theft, criminal damage and possessing an article with a blade or point in a public place over the incident at the Glenavon House early on July 18.

Crown lawyer Adrian Higgins said a man was seen walking around the hotel carrying a chef's knife and dressed in a hat and apron.

The items were allegedly stolen by breaking into an employee's locker.

Mr Higgins told the court blood had been smeared in that area, with "IRA hahaha" written in graffiti.

CCTV footage allegedly shows the intruder arrive at the hotel on a BMX bike, force open the locker and remove the items before entering the kitchen and restaurant areas.

"The male was challenged by staff and said he was there to start work, but no staff recognised him," the prosecutor said.

When he was confronted a second time he made off on the bike, leaving the hat, apron and knife behind.

McCann was arrested after a member of the public reported a man near the hotel, lying beside the BMX allegedly stolen earlier that morning.

"He may have been the worse for wear from alcohol," Mr Higgins suggested.

Although McCann was released over that incident, he was detained again on August 27 for alleged offences including attempted arson, theft, disorderly behaviour, criminal damage and assault on police.

It was claimed that he stole a packet of cigarettes from a filling station on Coleraine's Strand Road.

"Police received additional information that the male proceeded to the forecourt of the garage, lifted a petrol pump and threatened to burn both himself and the premises."

McCann ended up in accident and emergency after allegedly trying to head-butt a police officer arresting him and then punching a camera in custody.

"I believe the applicant injured himself by breaking a wrist during the course of committing the criminal damage," Mr Higgins added.

Describing the alleged behaviour as "bizarre and erratic", Mr Justice Treacy said McCann seemed disturbed.

Defence counsel Thomas McKeever confirmed his client has addiction and mental health issues.

Granting bail to an address in Larne, the judge banned McCann from entering Cookstown or part of Coleraine.

He also cautioned him: "You're still a young man with your whole life ahead of you, don't waste it on drugs."

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