Belfast Telegraph

Knifeman terrorised staff, mum and child in office, court hears

'The two women behind the counter were terrified, as was a customer and her three-year-old child, the court heard' (stock photo)
'The two women behind the counter were terrified, as was a customer and her three-year-old child, the court heard' (stock photo)

By Staff Reporter

A man accused of producing a 12-inch knife to staff in Dungannon Credit Union while a mother and her toddler looked on in horror has been refused bail.

Vitalijs Strazdins (36) is charged with having a hunting knife in public on Thursday, as well as assaulting two female staff in the premises.

A police officer told Dungannon Magistrates Court that all charges could be connected.

Opposing bail, she explained police responded to a personal alarm at 9.30am which had been activated by staff at the Credit Union branch in William Street in the town.

On arrival officers were informed that Strazdins, of Irish Street, had entered the premises and placed the knife on the counter. He refused to sit down when requested, but instead sarcastically asked staff: "Are you okay?"

The two women behind the counter were terrified, as was a customer and her three-year-old child, the court heard.

The alarm was triggered and Strazdins exited, leaving the knife on the counter.

He returned within minutes, picked up the knife and left again, walking the short distance to his flat.

Police followed and on apprehending Strazdins noticed that he was extremely intoxicated.

The officer said that having been arrested: "He disclosed he would not be here much longer as he is planning to go home. We have his passport but do not know if he also has an identity card with which he could still travel."

On this basis police were concerned by the risk he could flee, and there were also witness interference issues due to the close proximity of Strazdins's address and the credit union.

A defence barrister argued bail could be granted as, although his client has a previous record, it dates back to many years ago.

He added: "It is accepted the case, on the face of it, is worrying, but bail could be granted with conditions. It is suggested the issue of witness interference does not feature."

District Judge John Meehan replied: "On present information, I do not agree. There is no measure of the defendant as yet. This was a serious incident involving a large weapon and persons were put in fear."

Strazdins was remanded in custody to appear again by video-link on January 9.

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