Exclusion zone imposed on raid accused

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A man accused of ransacking a south Belfast home and threatening to burn it down with teenage victims inside is not to go within two miles of the property, a High Court judge ordered yesterday.

Mr Justice Burgess imposed the exclusion zone as part of conditions of bail granted to Ruairi Padraig Walls.

Walls, 26, of Donegall Street in the city, was allegedly part of a raid on the house at Newforge Grange where two intruders stole £1,200 worth of designer jewellery and clothes.

He denies charges of robbery, burglary, threats to destroy property and threats to kill, assault, demanding cash with menaces, and using force or threats to get an alleged victim to withdraw his statement.

A previous court heard an 18-year-old man was grabbed by the neck outside the property before the robbers went inside and systematically trawled through the rooms on August 15.

Police claimed threats were made that he would be shot and his house would be burnt down with his family in it.

The incident was said to have had a traumatic impact on the teenager and a 16-year-old girl who was also present.

Most of the stolen items were said to have been found after searches at a house linked to another suspect.

Defence counsel Sean Doherty argued that Walls must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

He pointed out that none of the stolen property was found during searches of his client’s home.

According to Mr Justice Burgess the alleged raid had been “a prolonged and very frightening experience” for the victims.

But based on the distance between the targeted home and Walls’ address, the judge granted bail under conditions of curfew and electronic monitoring.

He directed that a map be drawn up with an exclusion zone of “at least two to three miles” of the house.