Robbers ‘tied up, hooded and threatened couple with hatchet’

One of the robbers brandished a hatchet

One of the robbers brandished a hatchet

A north Belfast man has relived the moment he and his wife were confronted by two armed men who hooded and bound them before stealing jewellery and cash cards.

The couple’s home in the Upper Cavehill area of the city was targeted on the evening of Sunday December 7, 2014 by the men, one of whom brandished a hatchet.

The north Belfast couple had just returned from a weekend break when they were confronted by the intruders.

Both the man and his wife had hessian-type sacks placed over their heads and had their hands bound.

The intruders – one of whom spoke with what was described in court as a “fake Polish accent” – demanded that the couple hand over the keys to their safe, as well as several bank cards.

After stealing a substantial amount of jewellery from the safe, the pair asked the couple to reveal the PIN numbers for their bank cards.

Before leaving, the intruders also threatened that they would come back if false PIN numbers were given and they were unable to withdraw cash.

Giving evidence at Belfast Crown Court, the male occupant said that after he was confronted by the intruders, he was pushed into the living room where he joined his wife on the floor. They were hooded and bound, while demands were made for keys to the safe and cash cards.

Saying that he was “almost choking” and “hyperventilating”, the occupant said: “My wife was shouting ‘take anything, take anything’. She just wanted the whole experience to end. She was very ill at the time and still is. We just wanted them out of the house as quickly as we could.”

The man said that while one of the intruders was aggressive and spoke in what he believed to be a fake Polish accent, the other man called them ‘sir’ and ‘madam’ and at one stage during the ordeal, he offered to get them a drink of water.

He added: “They told us they were leaving one person behind. They said ‘we will be back. We are going to check the PIN numbers and if we don’t get the money, we will be back’. They told my wife ‘we will hit you with the hatchet’.”

After the robbers fled the couple, despite being bound, were able to call a family member who in turn alerted the PSNI.

Currently standing trial on three charges arising from the incident is Brian Andrews, from Oldpark Road in Belfast. The 49-year-old has been charged with aggravated burglary, as well as two counts of false imprisonment. He denies all the charges against him.

Crown prosecutor Mark Farrell said Andrews was arrested after a latex glove found in the couple’s home was seized by police. A forensic scientist located the DNA profile of three people, including a partial profile which the Crown say matches that of the accused.

The jury was told that when Andrews was arrested six months after the burglary, he gave a ‘no comment’ response to questions police put to him during interview.

At hearing.