Belfast shop arson accused ‘not a pyromaniac’

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Editorial image

A man accused of setting fire to a north Belfast convenience store is not a pyromaniac, a court has been told.

Neill McGreevy’s lawyer rejected claims he poses a wider threat following the alleged weekend arson attack on a Co-op branch.

The shop, located on the Antrim Road, sustained substantial damage to a caged area and scorch damage to a wall.

A pile of rubbish and newspapers had been set alight early on Sunday morning.

McGreevy, aged 23 and of no fixed address, appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court to face a charge of arson endangering life with intent.

A detective confirmed the case against him is based on CCTV evidence.

Opposing bail, she claimed there would be a risk of further offending or interference with witnesses if he was released.

While in police custody McGreevy allegedly stated: “When I get out of here there’s going to be murder.”

A defence solicitor argued, however, that the accused has a significant learning difficulty.

“He’s clearly a man of limited intellect and doesn’t know what he’s saying,” the lawyer insisted.

“He’s not a general risk to the public, there’s no evidence that he’s a pyromaniac or some form of arsonist.”

But refusing bail, District Judge Mark Hamill ruled that ensuring public protection must come first.

He said: “It would take a very courageous district judge to release him on bail – I’m not that courageous.”

McGreevy was remanded in custody to appear again on July 31.