Northern Ireland news

Woman left terrified after fire started by masked intruders, court told

The high court in Belfast

A WOMAN allegedly tied up in a house set alight by masked intruders was left "terrified" as she smelt smoke coming towards her, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors also claimed another victim had boiling water thrown at him as part of the same crime spree.

Details emerged as a man charged with attempted murder and a series of burglaries was granted compassionate bail for his child's christening.

Niall Lynch (35), of Mill River Close in Ardglass, faces 14 counts over an alleged campaign between February 19 to February 23.

He is accused of involvement in a break-in at a house on School Road near Clough.

Police said masked men bound a woman in her fifties, who was reportedly employed as a cleaner, before making off with computer devices.

During the raid, a fire was started but the woman was helped by passers-by.

Crown lawyer Kate McKay claimed the intruders also brandished weapons at the victim.

"She was terrified, she could smell the smoke entering the bedroom," she said.

Three days later, Lynch was allegedly involved in a separate break-in targeting a family in Co Down.

Ms McKay said when the family tried to stand up to the burglars, a pair of scissors was held to the woman's throat and a kettle containing boiling water was thrown at a male.

Money was eventually handed over.

Two bars were also said to have been targeted before Lynch and two co-accused were arrested after being spotted at a coffee shop in Rathfriland, Co Down. Searches of the suspects recovered a crow bar, hammer, latex gloves and balaclavas, the court heard.

Lynch faces charges including attempted murder, false imprisonment, arson with intent to endanger life, burglary, aggravated burglary and going equipped for burglary.

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