Alleged burglar appears in court to face car theft trials

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An alleged burglar was remanded in custody today accused of a series of New Year’s Eve attempts to steal cars.

Emmanuel Smyth is charged with break-ins at three homes in the Newtownabbey area - including one where a pensioner got into the passenger seat to stop her vehicle being taken.

The 31-year-old defendant, of no fixed address, appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court to face three counts of burglary.

He is also accused of aggravated vehicle taking, causing damage to a pillar, and common assault to another car owner who confronted an intruder in his home.

The alleged offences relate to raids on properties in the early hours of December 31.

Shortly after midnight a resident in Forthill Gardens phoned police to say he had found a man inside his home. The intruder fled after being discovered.

A short time later a burglar entered a house on Doagh Road and stole car keys, according to police.

He then attempted to take the vehicle from the driveway, but was stopped by the resident - a woman in her 70s - who got into the passenger seat.

As the man abandoned the car and escaped on foot, the woman fell from the vehicle and sustained minor injuries.

Within an hour police received a further report from a resident in Church Terrace who had disturbed an unknown man in his kitchen.

The intruder had taken car keys from the property and attempted to take the vehicle, but when confronted by the homeowner he threw the keys and ran.

Smyth was later arrested and charged with the offences.

Opposing bail, an investigating detective claimed he may fail to surrender.

She also expressed concerns about potential interference with witnesses in the Newtownabbey area, particularly the elderly woman living in Doagh Road.

A defence solicitor argued that Smyth has consented to taking part in an identification procedure and providing DNA swabs.

But remanding the accused in custody, District Judge Harry McKibbin said: “I couldn’t possibly consider bail.”

Smyth is due to appear again by video-link on January 29.