Two men appear in court charged with break-in at south Belfast house where knife was held to baby's throat

Marie Louise McConville

Burglars threatened a six-month-old baby boy with a knife during a house raid in south Belfast, a court heard today.

Police said another child has been left so traumatised by the break-in at Stranmillis Gardens that he doesn't want to return home.

Details emerged as two men accused of targeting the family in the early hours of Thursday were remanded in custody.

Seamus Rooney, 30, of Kinnaird Terrace, and 25-year-old Tyrone Boyle, of Victoria Parade - both in Belfast - are jointly charged with aggravated burglary and possession of an offensive weapon, namely a knife.

Rooney faces further counts of criminal damage to a PSNI vehicle and assault on police.

The pair were arrested after police were alerted at around 2am.

Cash, a laptop computer, Playstation games console and children's toys were allegedly stolen by the knife-wielding intruders

Appearing together in the dock at Belfast Magistrates' Court, Rooney and Boyle confirmed they understood the charges against them.

Opposing bail, a police officer claimed they posed a risk of harm to the public.

"These are very serious offences where a small child was threatened with a knife... the family are completely distressed," she said.

"There was a seven-year-old child in the house as well; he's so traumatised that he doesn't want to return."

Defence lawyers argued that both accused could be released from custody to live at addresses well away from the scene of the break-in.

A solicitor representing Rooney said he was unrepresented during police interviews and stressed his own family circumstances.

"He has two young children himself, aged two and ten months," the lawyer added.

But refusing both applications, District Judge Fiona Bagnall ruled: "I have to say there's a risk to the public."

She remanded the defendants in custody to appear again by video-link in four weeks time.

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