‘Whole street could have been blown up’

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

TWO men accused of burgling a Newry chip shop and starting a fire which could have blown up an entire street were refused bail at Newry Magistrates' Court on Wednesday.
Both John Anthony Ward, 39, of Edward Street, Newry and Adrian Feenan, 40, of Orior Par, Bessbrook, face numerous charges include arson endangering life, possession of an offensive weapon, aggravated burglary, assault on police and resisting police.
The charges stem from an incident last Monday, June 30, at 8pm when police received a report of a burglary on Dominic Street.
The court heard that staff in the shop heard noises from the floor above them which is used for storage and when they went to investigate they found a man standing with a till at his feet.
A second man armed with a claw hammer then came down from the second floor and the pair made off. Staff believed the pair had exited through a back door but minutes later a member of the public came in and told them the third floor of the property was on fire.
The court was told rags and paper had been pushed up against a plaster wall and set alight with either a lighter or matches.
A detective constable, who opposed bail, told the court a gas line for the whole street ran through the second floor of the building and if it had caught fire "the whole street could have blown" causing what he described as "a catastrophe".
Minutes later police on Thompson's Lane stopped Ward and Feenan who matched the description given by witnesses of the perpetrators.
Ward had a claw hammer in the waistband of his trousers and had a lighter in his pocket. Feenan struggled with police and pushed an officer in the chest, while Feenan tried to reach for the claw hammer.
The court was told it took several officers to restrain Ward and bring him to the ground in what was described an "extremely violent" altercation. He then spat on an officer's shirt and then "directly into his face". He then struck out at another officer, damaging his watch, before biting him on the arm.
Feenan gave a "no comment" interview and couldn't explain why he was in the area at the time of the incident while Ward gave police a pre-drafted statement saying he had no recollection of the incident and didn't commit the offences.
Defence said Ward has lived with his family for over a year in the city and would not be a flight risk, while the court heard Feenan is an alcoholic who had been been off drink for a year until the night of the incident.
District Judge Eamonn King refused bail on the grounds that the accused may flee, may further offend and may try to interfere with witnesses.
Ward and Feenan will appear at Newry Magistrates' Court on July 3 via video link.


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