Man accused of threat to burn down shop can attend christening

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A customer accused of locking staff into a printing shop and threatening to burn it down in a dispute over a dressing gown is to be allowed out of prison for a family christening.

Gary Byrne has been granted temporary High Court bail to attend the service for his baby nephew at a church in Belfast on Sunday.

With the 29-year-old set to be the child’s godfather, Madam Justice McBride told him: “Hopefully you will understand the importance of whatever vows you take to set a good example to him.”

Byrne, of Hawtree Park in Lisburn, Co Antrim, allegedly left employees at the shop in Belfast city centre terrified.

He is also accused of attacking up to four police officers after they were called to the scene on June 7.

Byrne faces charges of false imprisonment, threats to kill and threats to damage property, disorderly behaviour, assaults on police and criminal damage to a PSNI cell smeared in excrement.

During a bail application it was claimed he went into Dstar Printing Boutique on Castle Street in Belfast city centre demanding to speak to the manager.

A judge was told previously that he shouted: “You wrecked my new born baby’s house coat.”

Prosecution counsel alleged Byrne continued to scream and rant incomprehensibly before going behind the counter and declaring: “Right, this shop is f****** shut.”

The premises were locked for a period with three members of staff inside, the court heard.

It was claimed that he then threatened: “I’m going to burn this f****** shop down while you’re all in it.”

Bryne allegedly continued by telling staff there were three ways to sort out the situation: the right way, the wrong way or the illegal way.

He then unlocked the shop, approached police outside and asked: “Are youse looking for me?”, the court heard.

Officers were forced to put him into leg restraints and handcuffs amid fears he was going to strike out, it was claimed.

Byrne is accused of threatening to bite one constable and kicking two others.

At one stage, according to the prosecution, he told police: “Third warning, I will take your face off.”

During a previous hearing, defence barrister Michael Boyd had accepted: “He (the accused) for whatever reason seems to deal very, very poorly with any sort of conflict situation.”

Seeking compassionate bail for his client on Wednesday, Mr Boyd argued that any threats or “unpleasant behaviour” did not result in serious violence.

Mr Boyd added: “He suffers from a personality disorder that seems to manifest itself in conflict situations where he’s challenged by someone in authority.”

Granting the temporary release from custody, the judge ordered him to return to prison immediately after the church service.

Byrne, who appeared via prison video-link, replied: “Much obliged, My Lady.”