Friends barricaded themselves in room from masked burglars

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Two boxing fans barricaded themselves in as burglars raided a house on the night of Carl Frampton’s world title fight, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors said the pair fled to a games room after masked intruders armed with fake handguns broke into the property on the outskirts of west Belfast.

Details emerged as bail was refused to a man accused of the break-in at Manor Mews, Dunmurry in the early hours of July 31.

Alec Lester, of Utility Street in the city, denies charges of aggravated burglary, carrying a firearm or imitation firearm, and assault on police.

A judge was told he was detained just over 300 metres from the scene, allegedly carrying £1,190 in cash, a watch and driver’s licence stolen from the house.

Two men wearing balaclavas were said to have forced their way into the property.

According to prosecution counsel a man who lives there and a guest ran to a room above the garage, erected a barricade and phoned police.

“One of the two men followed them up and locked them in that room from the outside,” she added.

Lester was arrested after a man fitting description of one of the burglars unwittingly tried to flag down a police car on the nearby Old Golfcourse Road, the court heard.

He denied involvement in the raid and claimed to have been partying at locations in the area.

But the prosecutor said the homeowner confirmed to police he had held no party.

She revealed the burglary was carried out on the night Belfast boxer Carl Frampton defeated Leo Santa Cruz to become featherweight world champion.

“He (the resident) had been watching it with a couple of friends,” the barrister said.

“The account of a party is just not accepted.”

Defence counsel Jon Paul Shields argued that Lester only faces a circumstantial case at this stage.

“He has indicated that he did not go into this property,” Mr Shields insisted.

Denying bail, however, Mr Justice Maguire said: “There’s a significant risk of further offending in this case, and indeed further offending of a serious nature.”