Belfast Telegraph

Mother begged knife-wielding intruders for her baby son's life

Prosecution barrister David Russell told Judge Paul Ramsey QC that the mother of the baby, who was sleeping in a cot beside her and her partner, awoke to find an armed man in the downstairs bedroom of her mother's home in south Belfast (stock photo)
Prosecution barrister David Russell told Judge Paul Ramsey QC that the mother of the baby, who was sleeping in a cot beside her and her partner, awoke to find an armed man in the downstairs bedroom of her mother's home in south Belfast (stock photo)

By Michael Donnelly

A young mother begged for the life of her baby son after her home was invaded by two drug-addled men brandishing knives - like something from a "horror movie" - a Belfast court has heard.

Details of the family's ordeal were given yesterday during Crown Court submissions in the case of Seamus Rooney (30) and Tyrone Boyle (26), who had previously pleaded guilty to robbing the family of phones, computers and cash in November 2017.

Both Boyle, with a north Belfast hostel address and identified as threatening the baby boy, and Rooney, of St Dympnas Park, Downpatrick, who fought with the child's grandmother, will be sentenced in a fortnight.

Prosecution barrister David Russell told Judge Paul Ramsey QC that the mother of the baby, who was sleeping in a cot beside her and her partner, awoke to find an armed man in the downstairs bedroom of her mother's home in south Belfast.

Mr Russell said as the young mum pleaded for the life of her son, aged six to seven months, the man kept demanding: "Where's the stuff?"

She later told police how "the knife was pointing blade-down towards my son in his cot... it was a big knife.

"I thought he was going to kill my baby... the knife moved towards him... it was as if he was going to stab him... it was almost touching his neck," she said.

The woman then watched as the "blade of the knife was moved back and forward towards my son, like something out of a horror movie".

"I was on my knees pleading and begging the male not to hurt my baby", she said.

The woman told the intruder she had nothing to give him, "but he kept putting the knife at the child's neck".

After the man left the bedroom, the woman saw an armed man struggling with her mother at the foot of the stairs.

"I was pleading with him not to kill my mummy," she said. "I was distraught like never before. I thought I was going to have to watch my mummy being stabbed."

The woman's mother managed to eventually bundle the man out the front door after he slipped on a mat as she grappled with him for the knife, which was pointing at her stomach.

Defence QC Charles MacCreanor, for Boyle, said the burglary was opportunistic in nature and escalated after the two men lifted knives after they got inside.

Mr MacCreanor insisted that while his client has a criminal record, he had no history of causing harm to others.

He also told the court how Boyle's life spiralled out of control after the death of his father, who died after stumbling and falling while out walking.

Mr MacCreanor added, however, that his client knew he had to be punished and had to "make amends".

Patrick Lyttle QC, for Rooney, said it was accepted his client's actions were "appalling".

He stressed, however, that Rooney was "out of his mind" on drink and drugs at the time of the incident and his behaviour had been "out of character".

Mr Lyttle said the life of the father-of-three had been "blighted" by drugs. He told the court that while his client had been out of trouble since 2009, "it appears, on this particular night, on this particular day, he was, to use the vernacular, on a bender".

Counsel added later that Boyle was "normally quite a placid individual... not a hard man, or vicious".

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