Man '˜punched his grandmother and threatened to set her on fire'

A man allegedly punched his grandmother and threatened to set her on fire, the High Court heard on Friday.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 30th November 2018, 2:43 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 3:34 am

Wayne Singleton is accused of attacking the 70-year-old woman after she picked up a lit cigarette he dropped in her north Belfast home.

Prosecutors described her as a vulnerable lady who suffers from arthritis and agoraphobia.

Singleton, 26, of Dewey Street, was granted bail on a charge of common assault on November 24.

Police were told he arrived at his grandmother’s home drunk, lit a cigarette and then dropped it on the kitchen table.

When she picked it up he became verbally abusive towards her, it was claimed.

Crown lawyer David McClean told the court: “She said he punched her with a closed fist to the back of the head, causing soreness.

“He then allegedly began to flick a cigarette lighter at his grandmother, stating that he would set her on fire.”

At that point the pensioner grabbed her coat and left the house amid fear of a further assault, according to the prosecution.

The court heard police found him hiding in the living room.

In comments captured on body-worn recording equipment he allegedly told officers: “I hit her a slap on the f****** head.”

Mr McClean further claimed: “He stated that he didn’t care what age she was and he would smack her again if they didn’t take him away.”

During interviews Singleton denied punching his grandmother, trying to set her on fire or making any such comments.

Describing himself as an alcoholic who had drunk two bottles of gin and a few beers that day, he instead claimed to have pushed her as she shouted at him.

Opposing bail, Mr McClean said the alleged victim has a number of physical complaints, adding: “She doesn’t leave her house very often.”

David Heraghty, defending, countered that Singleton and his grandmother normally have a “good and supportive” relationship.

“There’s no doubt he was extremely intoxicated; what he says is as a result of his grandmother remonstrating with him he pushed her,” counsel said.

“He disputes the assertion that he punched her to the head.”

Based on assurances from Singleton’s mother that she will provide support for him, Mr Justice McAlinden decided she should be given that opportunity.

“Something has to be done here to try and allow this individual to demonstrate that he is finally prepared to face his demons and overcome his alcohol and drug problems,” the judge said.

Imposing strict bail conditions, including seeking medical and rehabilitation treatment, the judge banned Singleton from going near the alleged victim’s home.

He said: “The grandmother has suffered enough at this man’s hands.”