Man denies setting fire to former partner’s bed

Scales of Justice
Scales of Justice
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A man allegedly chased his ex-partner with a hatchet and hammer before setting her bed on fire while she was in it, the High Court heard today.

The woman claims she was shut into the bedroom at the house in Co Tyrone, where her screams woke a child in the next room.

Her 31-year-old former boyfriend is charged with arson endangering life, false imprisonment and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The man, who cannot be identified, also faces a further 28 counts, including sexual assault, exposure, theft, criminal damage and possession of an offensive weapon.

The alleged offences, which are all denied, were committed between February and May this year.

Prosecutors mounted an appeal after a district judge in Omagh granted bail to the man earlier this week.

He was arrested after his ex-girlfriend, a mother of two, claimed her bed had been set alight with her in it, the court heard.

Crown lawyer Conor Maguire said police were called to her home on May 18 and told the accused had been abusive, belittling her and calling her names.

The woman alleged he had struck her a number of times with a closed fist.

“She said she asked him to leave but he refused, he picked up a hatchet and hammer and chased her upstairs,” Mr Maguire contended.

“The injured party went in her bedroom where he set the bed on fire and then pulled the door shut with the injured party in the room.

She had to stamp on the fire to put it out, according to the prosecution.

Mr Maguire claimed: “The injured party’s five-year-old daughter heard her mother screaming and woke at that stage.”

The court was told that the accused also allegedly “used knives” during the time they were in a relationship.

Defence counsel Michael Boyd confirmed his client “strongly” rejects all the allegations against him.

“He has made the case that this lady is either telling lies or, on other occasions, grossly exaggerating things that have taken place between the two of them.”

Mr Boyd pointed to separate allegations she made which were found to be baseless.

“There’s a real question mark hanging over this lady’s credibility,” he argued.

Adjourning the appeal, Mrs Justice Keegan said it was to allow further interviews and for the prosecution to provide a timeframe on progressing the case.

The accused will remain in custody until the hearing resumes in two weeks time.