Belfast Telegraph

Lisburn man facing arson charge is denied bail application

By Alan Erwin

A man allegedly stuffed burning paper through his next door neighbours' letterbox as part of an ongoing dispute, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors claimed the attack damaged the house in Lisburn, Co Antrim and left a woman who had been inside with her partner "terrified".

Damien Smith faces a charge of arson endangering life over the incident on March 20.

The 49-year-old, of Sloan Street in the city, has made counter-allegations of being subjected to homophobic harassment, a judge was told.

His application for bail was dismissed, however, because no suitable address is available.

Crown lawyer Conor Maguire said police discovered paper stuffed into the neighbours' letter-box and still alight.

A couple inside were alerted and the fire extinguished.

A considerable amount of smoke was noted inside the property, along with damage to a draft excluder on the door.

The woman who lives there with her partner told police they had ongoing issues with Smith and thought it had been "childish" behaviour when she heard the letter box open, the court was told.

Mr Maguire continued: "She was terrified when police and her partner alerted her to the fire that had been started."

Although Smith wasn't present when officers forced entry to his home, they allegedly found partially-burnt paper in a bedroom. He was arrested after returning to the property later and contacting police about a suspected break-in.

Defence counsel Kelly Doherty stressed it had been her client who initially phoned the PSNI about alleged ongoing harassment from his next door neighbours.

Explaining Smith's reasons for leaving before they arrived, she told the court: "He said he was really frightened. The nature of the alleged harassment he suffers is homophobic and to do with his sexual orientation."

Ms Doherty described the accused as prone to outbursts due to a personality disorder. But referring to the alleged arson attack, Lord Justice Treacy said: "It goes beyond verbal aggression."

With no other accommodation available, the judge confirmed: "He doesn't have a suitable address, so I'm dismissing the application."

Belfast Telegraph

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