A 23-year old man facing charges arising from an armed robbery was granted bail on Friday to allow him to take a paternity test.
Daniel Braniff has been on remand in HMP Maghaberry since last summer after he was arrested on suspicion of being one of two masked men who robbed a newsagents in the Ardoyne area of Belfast at knife-point.
Whilst on remand, Braniff has not made any previous applications for bail. However, after his mother was approached by a young woman in December, and informed that he had fathered a baby, an application was made at Belfast Crown Court by his barrister Martin Morgan.
Mr Morgan said there were two reasons his client was seeking bail - firstly to allow him to spend time with his grandmother, who is too ill to continue travelling to prison to visit him, and secondly to sort out a “paternity issue.”
The barrister revealed that a young woman gave birth to a baby last October, then told Braniff’s mother last month that he was the father.
Seeking bail, Mr Morgan told Judge David McFarland: “A paternity test has to be carried out, and at present that is difficult because he is in custody. If he is released, that can be attended to and addressed as effectively as possible.”
Revealing that Braniff has even asked his family to buy a test off the Internet, which would prove to be unreliable, Mr Morgan added: “If the child is his, this will focus his mind on seeing the child, and getting the paternity issue settled.”
When asked if there were objections to Braniff being released on bail, Crown prosecutor Peter Magill raised concerns about fears or re-offending. He also told the court Braniff had failed to answer his bail on three separate previous occasions.
Regarding the incident itself, Braniff is accused of being one of two men who targetted the newsagents in Ardoyne on June 18 last year. Braniff’s co-accused - who the Crown say was detained at the scene by members of the public after trying to hide in the toilets of a taxi depot - was granted bail last year.
Braniff’s legal team pointed out that despite it being “impossible” to identify the robbers as they were masked, five days after the incident Braniff handed himself in to police. He refused to talk to officers, but handed them a statement which said: “I accept I was in the Irish News shop, I was the individual with the knife, and I have nothing further to say.”
Judge McFarland agreed to release Braniff, and imposed a number of conditions - including a ban on consuming drink and drugs, observing a 10pm to 8am curfew, and not contacting his co-accused.
After hearing that Braniff’s grandmother had agreed to provide a £500 cash surity, Judge McFarland said that if he breached any conditions, his grandmother would unfortuately be the person penalised.
Braniff is due to appear at Belfast Crown Court later this month on three charges arising from the robbery.