Threat to kill charges in '˜dispute over money'

A man allegedly punched a Husky-type dog in the face and brandished a gun as part of a feud between two families, a court has heard.

Monday, 12th March 2018, 4:54 pm
Updated Monday, 12th March 2018, 4:54 pm

Colin Leighton is also accused of threatening to kill two men amid escalating tensions in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim.

The 54-year-old, of Abbey Green in the Monkstown area, appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court after being arrested at the weekend.

He was refused bail amid police fears the alleged dispute over money could worsen.

Leighton is charged with two counts of threats to kill, possession of a handgun with intent to cause fear of violence, and having two batons as offensive weapons.

He is further accused of possessing more than 700 diazepam tablets with intent to supply and causing unnecessary suffering to a dog.

The alleged offences are linked to reports that a man approached a house in the Renagh Park area at around midday on Sunday, threatened the occupants and made off.

Opposing bail, a detective constable claimed two men were targeted within a matter of minutes.

A pistol was said to have been produced in connection with threats made towards one of them, while an extendable baton was allegedly brandished at the other.

Although neither weapon has been recovered, the court heard another wooden baton was seized from Leighton’s car.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told police found the class C drugs and more than £1,000 in cash during searches at the accused’s home.

Asked about the alleged animal cruelty offence, the detective claimed Leighton had tried to get in through a back gate at one victim’s house.

“There was a hole in the fence where the lock was, he was reaching his hand in when a dog put his face up and he allegedly punched the dog in the face,” she said.

The detective added: “This is ongoing tensions between these two families that have got to a stage where they are out of hand.”

Defence solicitor Gavin Graham rejected the police version of events.

With the dog described as either a Husky or a Japanese Akita, Mr Graham argued that his client was not tall enough to reach through the hole and strike such a big breed.

The solicitor also described claims that Leighton arrived with either a gun or an extendable baton as “completely fictitious”.

Mr Graham insisted: “There were no physical injuries to either complainant and no independent evidence.”

Denying bail, Judge Bagnall cited the risk of reoffending based on the alleged family feud and drugs offences.

She remanded Leighton in custody to appear again by video-link on April 9.