Lisnaskea family banned from own home after suspected assault
A judge has refused to amend bail imposed by police on three members of the same family suspected of serious offences against female neighbours.
Enniskillen Magistrates Court heard the father, mother and son from Lisnaskea face further interviews in coming weeks.
While accepting his clients are suspects, defence counsel pointed out none have been charged.
He described the bail terms as "unnecessarily harsh" with the mother being kept from her other children and the father suffering serious health issues.
This relates to a ban on the suspects living at their home address, which police say is necessary to protect the alleged victims, who were in extreme fear.
Opposing any changes, a police officer told the court that in an incident last month the two males arrived at the home of a female, banging at the door.
Opening it, she was violently grabbed and believes the men had a metal object and possibly a hammer. Other people began to gather, the court heard.
Another woman tried to assist but was punched to the ground and repeatedly kicked, the officer said. Her daughter intervened and she too was attacked, this time with the female suspect joining in with her husband and son and in the course of the struggle the female suspect bit this victim on the leg, it was said.
The officer said police arrived and captured the scene on bodyworn cameras. However, due to "the disturbance, offences involved and sheer volume of people", arrests could not be made until specialist officers from tactical support attended. The officer said a search of the suspects' home found a hammer and metal tubing. The alleged victims were taken to hospital with injuries, including black eyes, facial bruising and swelling, it was said.
The officer said after the incident the victims moved out of their home, terrified the suspects would launch another attack. They only returned on learning the suspects were banned from the area as part of bail.
While the officer accepted it was difficult for the suspects' children, it had to acknowledge the situation was caused entirely by their parents and older brother. She said the alleged victims also have children and their safety must be considered too.
"Police stress how fearful the victims are," explained the officer.
"They are reluctant to make a statement and have been put in fear. The medical difficulties of one of the suspects do not prevent him getting involved in incidents.
"The family are well-known to police and anti-social behaviour in the area in question is often attributed to them. Permitting a move back will cause the victims abject terror and heighten tensions."
The defence counsel called the situation "very strange, as my clients are not charged with any offence".
He said they were willing to be electronically tagged if they could return home. They even offered to use only the back door of their house to keep them from encountering the alleged victims.
He said: "There are young children and it is wrong for their mother to be kept from them."
The defence conceded the children are being cared for in their own home by a relative and are regularly taken to see their parents.
District Judge Michael Ranaghan ruled: "Police bail is entirely proportionate.
"This was a serious situation which required tactical support officers to attend. There is a real risk. Bail is there to protect injured parties and witnesses, and prevent disorder."
Rejecting the application, Judge Ranaghan concluded: "I won't be touching police bail."