Break-in accused allegedly told pensioners: I was taking car for IRA

Scales of Justice
Scales of Justice

A man allegedly tried to break into the home of two pensioners with an axe and told them he was taking their car for the IRA, the High Court heard on Tuesday.

David Connors is accused of carrying out the creeper-style raid in Dunmurry, west Belfast last month before colliding with a van in the stolen Peugeot 307.

The 27-year-old was found slumped over the wheel when the vehicle was brought to a halt following a police pursuit, prosecutors said.

Connors, of Old Forge, Dunmurry, faces a total of 14 charges in connection with a break-in carried out at Ashley Park in broad daylight.

They include counts of aggravated burglary, aggravated vehicle taking, threats to kill, common assault and a number of driving offences.

Refusing bail, Lord Justice Treacy said: “It’s purely fortuitous that people weren’t killed as a result of these activities on this particular day.”

He was told a couple aged 69 and 67 lived at the home targeted by two men at around 2pm on March 6.

Crown lawyer Natalie Pinkerton said CCTV equipment allegedly shows Connors take an axe from the garage and attempt to smash his way into the property, causing substantial damage to the front door.

The intruders eventually got into the house through a utility room and took the car keys before being confronted by the residents, the court heard.

According to Ms Pinkerton the husband followed them outside, asking what they were going to do.

“Connors stated that he was taking the car for the IRA,” she claimed.

The barrister continued: “When told by the injured party that he would not be doing that Connors pushed the gentleman in the chest, causing him to stumble backwards, and is believed to have said ‘I will stab you’.”

A short time later the stolen 207 was then involved in a collision with a Ford Transit van in the Upper Dunmurry Lane area.

Despite being damaged in the crash, it continued on to the Upper Springfield Road where police tried to bring it to a halt.

Ms Pinkerton claimed the car was travelling erratically, with wheels spinning as it almost struck other vehicles.

Eventually it was brought to a halt after shunting into the pursuing police vehicle.

With his co-accused said to be alongside him, Connors was allegedly discovered slumped over the steering wheel.

“He was disorientated, his speech slurred and unable to understand why he had been detained,” the prosecutor added.

When deemed fit for interview the next day he made no comment except to deny saying the car was being taken for the IRA.

Tests are still being carried out on blood specimens taken from him, the court heard.

Defence counsel acknowledged: “I have to accept it’s a very horrifying set of facts that ground both the burglary and driving in this matter.”

She argued, however, that Connors could be granted bail under a curfew and alcohol prohibition.

But Lord Justice Treacy ruled he must remain in custody.