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Pair accused of crimes against NI elderly are bailed

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Two men appeared in court yesterday following a spate of crimes committed against the elderly

Two men appeared in court yesterday following a spate of crimes committed against the elderly

Two men appeared in court yesterday following a spate of crimes committed against the elderly

Two men appeared in court yesterday following a spate of crimes committed against the elderly.

Mark Miller (46) and Elijah Lee (55) appeared separately at Belfast Magistrates Court on charges including fraud by false representation and burglary.

Both men were granted bail but were warned that the offences they faced were "low", and that any breach of bail would result in custody.

Miller, from Dundrum Road in Newcastle, and Lee from Ballynafoy Close in Belfast, were arrested following three separate incidents against the elderly.

On Friday, July 10, a 95-year-old woman from Newtownabbey received a telephone call telling her she owed money to BT.

She was then told to leave her bank card and PIN number in her letterbox, and this card was removed and used to withdraw £440.

In a second incident reported to police last Friday, an 84-year-old resident in the Four Winds area of Belfast was contacted and told she owed £200 to BT.

She was told to leave her bank card and PIN in the hallway, and 20 minutes later a man called at her home.

He pushed past her whilst grabbing the bank card from the hall which caused her to fall to the ground - and a number of withdrawals were made using the card.

On Monday, July 6, a 73-year-old Bangor woman received a call claiming she owed £1,500 to BT.

She was told to go and get the money, and on her return from the bank a man opened her car door and snatched the cash.

During Monday's hearing, a detective constable told the court he believed he could connect both accused to the charges.

He also made the case that the same car was used in all three incidents, the vehicle was driven by Lee, and Miller was the man who approached the houses in Newtownabbey and Belfast, and who snatched the money from the pensioner in Bangor.

This vehicle was detected in Antrim, and after CCTV was viewed, officers arrested Miller and Lee.

Miller appeared in court first, and when an application was made for bail, District Judge George Connor was told this was being opposed by the PSNI.

Branding the offences as "against elderly and vulnerable people", the officer spoke of a "serious concern this could end disastrously if he keeps up his offending".

The officer said Miller had an extensive criminal record and was likely to re-offend if granted bail.

A solicitor for Miller questioned the officer on the evidence against his client, with the officer saying this was largely down to clothing. The policeman said that in all three cases the suspect was wearing a hat and blue surgical mask and that identification "may be difficult" - adding "I believe it's him".

The solicitor said it was accepted the crimes were "terrible" but said Miller was not involved.

George Connor granted Miller bail and imposed a series of conditions including tagging, a ban on leaving Newcastle and a 11pm to 8am curfew.

Mr Connor told Miller the offences he was charged with were "low" and there would be an "ultra-unsympathetic response" should he breach bail.

The district Judge also granted bail to co-accused Lee.

Prior to this, Mr Connor was told by the police officer "we believe Mr Lee was driving the vehicle at the scene of the frauds and burglary".

Also highlighted by the officer who opposed bail was Lee's "extensive" criminal record.

Noting that Lee's last offending was in 2008, Mr Connor released him on bail which includes a condition of reporting to police five times a week and a curfew.

Mr Connor told Lee "most courts would consider these offences to be particularly low" and warned "any breach and you will find yourself in custody."

The case will be heard again at Belfast Magistrates Court on August 10.

Belfast Telegraph