Belfast-based offender fails to convince judge to let him have Christmas drinks


A north Belfast man with over 150 criminal convictions made an unsuccessful bid on Friday to have his bail conditions relaxed to allow him to drink over the festive period.

Brian Andrews, who turns 49 on Saturday, is accused of three offences linked to an aggravated burglary last December during which a couple were bound up and a hatchet was brandished by a three-man gang.

Andrews, from Cliftondene Crescent, has already spent time on remand and was released on bail last month.

During an application to vary Andrews bail which was held at Belfast Crown Court today, a solicitor acting on behalf of the accused asked that two current bail conditions be relaxed.

One request was to extend his curfew time, while the other was to lift the existing alcohol ban as Andrews “would like to go out and socialise coming up to the Christmas period”.

Judge Gordon Kerr was told by a Crown prosecutor that the variations were opposed.

Telling the court Andrews was facing charges linked to a burglary “where people in the house were bound and a hatchet was brandished”, the prosecutor revealed Andrews “has a considerable criminal record” with 158 previous convictions.

The prosecutor said that while there were no issues concerning Andrews and alcohol regarding last December’s burglary, when it carried out Andrews was already on bail for a prior incident.

This, the court heard, was connected to a burglary, and an “intoxicated” Andrews was identified as being the getaway driver, “with stolen goods on his person”.

Andrews solicitor said that the only evidence linking his client to last December’s break-in was his DNA found on a glove at the scene of the incident at Shanlieve Park in the north of the city.

Regarding his client’s request for relaxing two of the existing bail conditions, the solictor pointed out that since he was released from custody last month, Andrews has abided by all the conditions.

He asked that the alcohol ban be lifted to allow Andrews to “consume alcohol during the festive period”, and asked that the curfew be extended from the existing 7am to 7pm, to 7am to 11pm.

After listening to submissions from both the Crown and defence, Judge Kerr agreed to extend the curfew to 9pm, but said: “I will not remove the restriction on alcohol”.