Belfast Telegraph

Woman tied up in house set on fire by masked intruders left 'terrified', court told

By Alan Erwin

A woman allegedly tied up in a house set alight by masked intruders was left "terrified" as she smelt smoke coming towards her, the High Court was told.

Prosecutors also claimed another victim had boiling water thrown at him as part of the same crime spree across Co Down.

Details emerged as a man charged with attempted murder and a series of burglaries was granted compassionate bail for his child's christening.

Niall Lynch, 35, of Mill River Close in Ardglass, faces a total of 14 counts over an alleged campaign between February 19-23.

He is accused of involvement in a break-in at a house on School Road near Clough.

At the time, police said masked men entered the property and bound a woman in her fifties who was reportedly employed as a cleaner, before making off in a Peugeot car with computer devices.

During the raid a fire was started, but the woman was helped to safety by passers-by. Fire crews extinguished the blaze.

Referring to that incident, Crown lawyer Kate McKay claimed the intruders had also brandished weapons at the victim.

"She was tied up in an upstairs bedroom and a fire was started," the barrister said.

"She was terrified, she could smell the smoke entering the bedroom."

Three days later, Lynch was allegedly involved in a separate break-in targeting a family in Co Down.

"A mother, father and adult son were terrorised with the use of a hammer," Mrs McKay told the court.

She said when the family tried to stand up to the three burglars a pair of scissors was held to the woman's throat.

"The intruders assaulted the male householder and threw a kettle containing boiling water at him," counsel added.

A sum of money was eventually handed over.

Two bars were also said to have been targeted before Lynch and two co-accused were arrested after being spotted at a coffee shop in Rathfriland, Co Down.

Searches of the suspects recovered a crow bar, hammer, latex gloves and balaclavas, the court heard.

Lynch faces charges including attempted murder, false imprisonment, arson with intent to endanger life, burglary, aggravated burglary and going equipped for burglary.

Defence barrister Tom McCreanor stressed his client was only seeking limited bail to attend the christening service this weekend.

Granting the temporary release on strict conditions, Mr Justice McCloskey emphasised Lynch will only be allowed out if a £1,000 cash surety is lodged. ends

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