Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland man caused £12k of damage revving engine at shop door

A Tyrone man caused £12,790 damage to shop after reversing his car to doors, and revving the engine repeatedly, which pumped a huge cloud of exhaust smoke into the premises.

Two staff were working at the time, one of whom required hospital treatment for the effects of breathing in the fumes.

Stefan Boyd (30) of Stewartstown Road, Coalisland denied the charge and claimed it was not him in the driver’s seat of the car, although he accepted having a connection to it.

At Dungannon Magistrates Court CCTV footage of the incident, which occurred at 9.30pm on August 17 2016 in a Coalisland filling station, was played, clearly showing the car reverse close enough for the automatic door sensors to activate. When the doors opened, thick black smoke was seen swamping the interior of the shop, causing extensive damage to products and fittings.

One of the victim’s in the matter had been serving behind the shop counter when a female came in, bought a SIM card, chatted with another staff member and left.

This female was the girlfriend of Boyd at the time of the offence, and was known by both shop staff.

Seconds later, the incident occurred and smoke is seen billowing into the shop. The smoke hangs in air for a time having drifting over the majority of the shop, before settling on goods on display.

One of the staff members told the court said she became ill the following day and attended with a GP who sent her on to Craigavon Area Hospital.

She was suffering from eye irritation, as well as nausea and breathing difficulties, following direct exposure to the exhaust smoke.

Her co-worker was the supervisor on the right in question and he described a similar scene to the court. He confirmed seeing Boyd, whom he had known for some years, in the car which reversed up to the doors.

A defence barrister challenged this staff member stating, “Is it not a fact you put two and two together and assumed because my client’s girlfriend had been in the shop immediately beforehand, that it was him in the car?”

This was rejected, as was an assertion the forecourt lights were too dim to permit positive identification of a person.

The defence argued, “The lights in question shine downward and not onto a person’s face. You couldn’t have seen into the car.”

The witnesses replied, “Except I did.”

Next to give evidence was a police officer who confirmed Boyd provided a pre-prepared statement denying any involvement in the incident, and thereafter gave a “no comment” interview.

The defence advised the court Boyd had decided not to give evidence on his own behalf after which District Judge John Meehan warned an inference could be taken from this.

Judge Meehan wasted no time in finding Boyd guilty commenting: “The shop supervisor identified the defendant, a man he has known for some years. Mr Boyd gave a prepared statement denying it was him. But he offered no alibi and declined to give evidence on his own behalf. I draw inferences in his refusal to give evidence.”

He added: “The defendant was obviously, royally in a position to give an account of his movements that night but he made no effort to do so.

"That’s because he is entirely guilty of this matter.”

Boyd was remanded on continuing bail while pre-sentence reports are prepared. The case is due back in court on September 20.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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