Belfast Telegraph

Jeweller hit with hammer during Ballyclare raid, court hears

Robbers stole thousands of pounds worth of stock after a Northern Ireland jeweller was hit with a hammer, the High Court heard today.

Prosecutors said the gang fled when the victim managed to activate a panic alarm at the shop in Ballyclare, Co Antrim.

New details emerged as one of the men accused of carrying out the raid on October 3 was refused bail.

Jason Robert Paul, 30, of Lyndhurst View Avenue, in Belfast, faces charges of robbery, arson, common assault, criminal damage and possessing an offensive weapon.

Crown lawyer Conor Maguire said four men entered the jewellery store in the Mill Road area, one wielding a hammer he used to smash glass cabinets.

A woman working in the shop was struck on the wrist with the hammer and shoved over, according to the prosecutor.

One of the men pinned her to the ground with his foot while the display units were smashed, showering her in glass fragments.

"The four males exited when the injured party was able to get access to a panic alarm she had on the premises," Mr Maguire submitted.

He told the court "considerable" damage was caused to the shop during the heist.

The barrister also disclosed: "One of the items stolen was a £2,700 engagement ring. These were items of relatively high value."

Police arrived at the scene and chased three men across fields, arresting Paul and two co-accused.

Another two suspects were detained later, close to the scene of an alleged attempt to set fire to a car used by the gang.

Defence counsel Michael Boyd argued that Paul should not be treated different than a co-accused already released from custody.

But refusing bail, Mr Justice McAlinden held there was a risk of further offending.

The judge also pointed out: "It must have been very, very frightening for the member of staff who was present and struck by the hammer used to damage the cases."

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