Northern Ireland

Theft accused 'reported robbery'

A man allegedly burgled his 85-year-old neighbour's home and then reported the raid to police, a court has heard.

James Hogg, 40, is accused of stealing the pensioner's handbag containing £100 and personal belongings after visiting her home in Ballyclare, Co Antrim.

Hogg, who lives close the victim on the town's Doagh Road, faces charges of burglary and possession of cannabis.

He was granted bail to live at an address outside Ballyclare and ordered to have no contact with the woman.

The court heard she noticed her handbag missing after Hogg had called with her on Monday.

Frightened

Conor O'Kane, prosecuting, said: "The defendant came back 15 minutes later and she informed him that it had been stolen.

"He actually phoned police on her behalf."

Officers called to the scene found no sign of a break-in.

Searches of Hogg's home uncovered a small quantity of drugs and the missing handbag.

Following arrest he claimed to have found it at the bottom of his garden, but had said nothing because he feared he would not be believed.

His barrister, Denis Boyd, told the court: "When police found the cannabis he said he was frightened to tell them about the handbag because they would assume he had stolen it."

Granting bail for the accused to live in Larne, Mr Justice Stephens imposed a ban on alcohol and non-prescription drugs.

The judge also ordered: "He is to have no contact with the injured party, and he is not to enter Ballyclare for any reason whatsoever."