Northern Ireland

'Pair had hatchet in break-in bid' at Antrim flat

High Court, Belfast
Image caption The case was heard at the High Court in Belfast

Two men accused of trying to break into a flat armed with a hatchet claimed to be in the area to buy cheap cigarettes.

Prosecutors claimed the men kicked down a door and smashed a window at an Antrim apartment block before being forced back by a dog.

Details emerged as one of the accused, Jason Wells, 30, of Donegore Drive, Antrim, applied to be released on bail.

He faces charges of aggravated burglary with intent to commit GBH and criminal damage.

The High Court heard Mr Wells was arrested along with a co-accused on 21 October after a number of men in a flat at Tiger Court claimed two men carrying weapons tried to force their way in.

Crown Counsel Nicola Auret said it was alleged that following a confrontation the suspects got through a communal door and went upstairs.

"The occupant of this flat, his dog started barking ferociously and this made them head back downstairs," she said.

"As they were doing this, this applicant then threw the hatchet he was carrying and smashed the window of the flat."

"All of the alleged weapons were recovered in the surrounding area, along with a knife and gloves," Ms Auret said.

A co-accused later told police he had gone to the area to buy cigarettes from someone selling them cheap, the court heard.

Although Mr Wells backed this story, the prosecution said neither man had any money on them.

Ms Auret claimed "some sort of falling-out" was behind the alleged incident, but could give no further reason, as the investigating officer was not in court.

Samurai sword

Charles McCreanor, defending, argued that Mr Wells was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He said: "It is a case of mistaken identity.

"The fact there appears to be no motive, no explanation police can garner from persons who were in the house might support that.

"There is no explanation why there should be difficulties between these people."

After hearing both sides, the judge pointed to the seriousness of the case.

Lord Justice Higgins said: "It is alleged that two people forcibly entered a house armed with a samurai sword, hatchet and crossbow.

"The circumstances in which that happened clearly gives rise to some issues of some sort."

He decided to adjourn the application for it to be heard again by another judge who first dealt with the case.