Northern Ireland

Pair face burglary dumbbell attack charges

A father fought off one of two alleged burglars after his son was hit over the head with a dumbbell, the High Court has been told.

Prosecutors said the pair broke into the house in south Belfast's Stranmillis area last Wednesday to steal car keys.

One of the suspects was arrested in the house and the other after crashing into an arriving police vehicle.

Both men were refused bail by a judge who said it was "an outrageous case".

Paul Rice, 24, of Monagh Drive, Belfast, faces charges of aggravated burglary with intent, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and possessing cannabis.

His co-accused, Barry Toner, of unknown age and with an address at Queen's Quarter Housing, University Street in the city, is charged with aggravated burglary with intent, driving while unfit, aggravated vehicle taking, causing damage to another vehicle, driving while disqualified and having no insurance.

Ian Tannahill, prosecuting, said the man hit with the dumbbell was watching TV while his parents were asleep when he saw a hooded man looking in his window, then encountered an intruder in his hallway.

The victim was told he was being robbed and asked for the car keys, according to Mr Tannahill.

'Big boys'

The barrister said: "A struggle ensued in the living room. The second male entered holding a dumbbell... (he) hit him over the head with the dumbbell behind his left ear.

"He did this having asked him if he wanted to play with the big boys."

After the first intruder seized keys and left the victim's father heard the commotion and came downstairs, the court heard.

He saw the raider still holding the weight above his son's head and hit out at him with his shoe.

Mr Tannahill said the father and son then managed to restrain the attacker who, it was alleged, turned out to be Mr Rice.

Mr Rice's co-accused had driven off in a family car, only to crash it into police arriving at the scene, the court was told.

Michael Boyd, appearing for Mr Rice, said his client had little memory of events having spent the day drinking with Toner, but had expressed his remorse immediately.

Mr Toner's barrister, Denis Boyd, said his client had admitted his role apart from the claims that he had "poked out" with an umbrella at the victim.

Refusing bail, Mr Justice Weir remarked on how "sturdy" the victims had been in dealing with the attack but said it could easily have been the house of an elderly woman not able to have protected herself.