Northern Ireland news

Maghera man accused of petrol bombing neighbours refused bail

The High Court in Belfast

A HIGH Court judge has refused to grant bail to a Co Derry man accused of petrol-bombing his neighbours.

Pointing out the incident could have resulted in people being killed in their own home, Mr Justice Maguire said "they are the people I am concerned about."

Ruairi Norton is on remand in Maghaberry on numerous offences, including throwing a petrol bomb with intent to damage property in January this year.

The 24-year old has also been charged with common assault on another neighbour in which it was alleged he called at a woman's door whilst on bail brandishing an axe.

Norton, formerly of Sunnyside Drive in Maghera, was not deemed as a suitable candidate for bail by the Crown.

Prosecuting barrister Kate McKay said that prior to the January 2018 petrol bombing - which Norton denied - the family in question allege that in the early hours of Christmas Day, an object was throw at their car, and that Norton later threatened to burn their house down.

The Crown said that on January 31, residents at the property in Sunnyside were awoken in the early hours by their smoke alarm. They escaped and it was subsequently determined a petrol bomb had been thrown into the living room.

Norton was arrested that morning, bare-chested, under the influence and he struggled with police.

It is the Crown's case that Norton was involved in another incident whilst on bail, and on this occasion on April 20, he is accused of calling at a woman's house in Draperstown, brandishing an axe.

Mrs McKay said when police called to his door after this incident, Norton was "intoxicated and emotionally distressed", and that when the property was searched, an axe was found.

Telling Mr Justice Maguire that Norton has denied the petrol bomb attack, and that the police case against his client was weak, a defence barrister said Norton's condition when he was arrested in January was due to him being woken from sleep and being presented with a "completely unfounded" allegation.

The barrister also told the court a proposed bail address was the other side of town from Sunnyside.

Refusing the application, Mr Justice Maguire said the petrol bombing could have resulted in death, and he was not prepared to release Norton to an address in the same town.

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