Northern Ireland news

Man accused of brandishing knife on Belfast street 'may have carried it for own protection from drug pushers'

Hannaphy, of no fixed abode, appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court Laganside Court in Belfast

AN alleged burglar accused of brandishing a knife on a Belfast street may have carried it for his own protection from drug pushers, a court heard.

Police claimed Thomas Hannaphy (26) had heroin and a five-inch blade tucked into his waistband when arrested in connection with a suspected break-in at Eglantine Avenue on Sunday.

Hannaphy, of no fixed abode, appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court on charges including burglary, possessing an offensive weapon in public, common assault, assault on police, and possessing Class and C drugs.

The alleged offences relate to the theft of a passport and medication from a property at the weekend.

It was claimed Hannaphy threatened a man after being challenged in the Eglantine Avenue area.

"The defendant showed him a knife handle tucked into his waistband, held it down to his side and told him to leave," a PSNI officer alleged.

Hannaphy was arrested a short time later and a five-inch blade and wrap of suspected heroin allegedly discovered on him.

District Judge Mark McGarrity was told a knife is believed to have been held to a woman's throat during the burglary.

Defence barrister Declan Quinn said Hannaphy has been struggling with addiction problems and living on the streets.

"It may be that the knife (he allegedly had), as unpalatable as this is, was for his own protection, buying drugs from people," Mr Quinn said.

"That is not something the court will condone in any shape or form, but it is a reality in terms of the lifestyle some people lead."

Bail was refused due to the risk of further offences and Hannaphy was remanded in custody to appear by video-link on May 31.

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