Belfast Telegraph

'Stolen cow picture' links Belfast man to burglaries, court hears

The defendant was denied bail (stock photo)
The defendant was denied bail (stock photo)

By Alan Erwin

A stolen picture of a Highland cow allegedly links a man charged with a spate of burglaries, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors claimed the framed portrait of cattle taken from one of the houses was later discovered at an address used by Eugene Smyth.

The 32-year-old is also accused of stealing three cars during a spree of domestic break-ins at locations in south Belfast and Co Antrim.

A Hyundai vehicle taken from the home of a 74-year-old man was later used in a subsequent raid at another location days later, it was alleged.

Smyth, of Bleach Green Terrace in Belfast, denies four counts of burglary and further charges of making off without payment, theft from a vehicle, fraud by false representation, tampering with a vehicle, and driving while disqualified.

His barrister described the case against him as "perilously weak".

The house raids were carried out dates between August 14-19 last year.

A pensioner living at Ardmore Park in Belfast reported that a Hyundai ix35, laptop, cash, scrap gold and electric razor had been taken after he went to bed, the court heard.

According to the prosecution the victim's car was driven to the scene of a second burglary at Feldon Close, Newtownabbey, where a Vauxhall Insignia, television set and cash were stolen.

Within hours two further properties on the Tullyrusk Road in Crumlin were targeted.

A Range Rover Evogue, jewellery, clothing and phones were allegedly taken from one of those addresses.

In a separate break-in at a neighbouring house the framed picture of a Highland cow was stolen along with another television set, whiskey, crystal and kitchen appliances.

"The picture becomes relevant because it was recovered during a search at Bleach Green Terrace," a Crown lawyer submitted.

She claimed Smyth's DNA profile was also recovered from the steering wheel of the stolen Hyundai.

Opposing bail, she argued that all of the burglaries involved a similar modus operandi.

Mr Justice O'Hara asked: "Was there any explanation in interviews why the picture of the Highland cow with horns was in (the Bleach Green Terrace address)?"

Defence counsel Joe Brolly questioned if it was even the stolen portrait, and insisted other people frequent the location where it was discovered.

He told the court that only a mixed and partial DNA profile was obtained from the car, suggesting it could have got there through contamination.

"This case is perilously weak... there's zero evidence linking this accused to any of this," Mr Brolly claimed.

"The prosecution says there's a similar modus operandi, but I don't know what that means.

"Is it like the man who appears in the night and leaves a box of Black Magic on a window sill?"

But disagreeing with the defence assessment, Mr Justice O'Hara refused bail.

He said: "I don't accept the Crown case is perilously weak."

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