Man ‘robbed OAPs in pub toilets’

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An alleged robber attacked two pensioners in the toilets of separate Belfast city centre pubs, the High Court heard yesterday.

Stephen McAree is accused of following both men into the gents, assaulting them and stealing their wallets.

One victim suffered broken ribs while the other had to have a head wound stapled together, a judge was told.

McAree denies two counts of robbery and further charges of causing grievous bodily harm and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The 45-year-old accused, of Thorndale Avenue, Belfast, was refused bail.

Prosecutors claim he was identified by police on CCTV footage of both incidents.

The first victim, aged 67, was grabbed and forced against urinals after entering toilets in Robinson’s Bar on Great Victoria Street last September.

He heard a thud and then “everything went blank”, a prosecution lawyer said.

The man remembered nothing else until he woke up in an ambulance and realised his wallet containing £80 in cash was missing.

It was claimed that his attacker followed him into the toilet before exiting again and telling staff that someone had been sick. Bar staff found the victim lying against the inner door of the toilet. As well as two fractured ribs, he suffered cuts and bruising to his head, face and body.

The second robbery was carried out at Weatherspoon’s Bar in November.

The 70-year-old victim, who had just finished having lunch with his son, was attacked as he used the toilet.

He was hit on the face so hard that it knocked him over, causing him to strike his head on the ground, the court heard. The pensioner sustained back injuries and needed five staples for a head wound. His wallet, containing bank and store cards, was missing.

McAree was later arrested and denied any involvement in either robbery.