Northern Ireland

Bail denied over '72-hour County Down crime spree'

Burglaries at the homes of four elderly women were among 20 separate incidents in County Down in a 72-hour crime spree, the High Court has heard.

Houses were ransacked while commercial premises and a youth club were also targeted, prosecutors said.

Two men allegedly behind the robberies were arrested in a 4x4 vehicle towing a caravan stolen from one property, the court heard.

Details emerged as one of the accused was refused bail.


John Connors, a 35-year-old farm labourer from Laire in Kilcock, County Kildare, faces a total of 30 charges.

These include multiple counts of burglary, attempted theft, going equipped for theft and possession of an offensive weapon.

He was arrested along with his co-accused in Rostrevor on 23 January.

Opposing his release, the prosecution lawyer said: "Given this was a crime spree over a period of days, if the applicant is admitted to bail he's a real risk of re-offending."

He said Mr Connors' co-accused had absconded after gaining temporary release, and remained at large.

The prosecution lawyer said the charges related to 20 different reports to police in the three days up to his arrests, including:

  • A purse containing £75 was allegedly stolen from the home of an 80-year-old woman in Killeavy, County Armagh
  • On the same day, another 80-year-old woman's house in Hilltown was ransacked while she was out, and her credit union book was stolen, the court heard
  • Another pensioner in Rostrevor had about £900 stolen, the barrister said
  • Within 24 hours a woman in her late 70s was said to have confronted an intruder, striking him on the head after he came through her front door in Annalong
  • Other domestic burglaries and attempted thefts were allegedly carried out in Newcastle, Saintfield, Banbridge, Katesbridge and Ballynahinch, with electronic equipment taken including a laptop, camera, iPod and iPhone
  • A youth club in Kilkeel had Playstation and Xbox games consoles stolen from it, and those systems were recovered from the 4x4 towing the caravan stolen in Rostrevor, the court was told.

'Drunken passenger'

A defence barrister said that only three of the incidents had any evidential link to his client.

He described Mr Connors as a settled member of the Travelling community and a father of seven.

Mr Connors was merely a drunken passenger at the time of his arrest, the barrister said, adding that it was a "very weak circumstantial case".

Refusing bail, the judge rejected a proposal for him to live at a property in Newry.

He added: "It would be far better to try and get an address further into Northern Ireland."