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‘Prolific offender’ refused bail as court hears how victims were threatened at knifepoint

A man accused of being involved in a series of incidents in which two people were threatened with a knife and another was told his throat would be slit, has been refused bail.

James Connors (20), of Ganna Way, Warrenpoint, appeared at Newry Magistrates’ Court via videolink from Banbridge.

Connors is facing five charges relating to the incidents which took place in the early hours of yesterday (Tuesday).

They are attempted robbery, assault on police, aggravated burglary and theft, burglary with intent to steal, and aggravated taking and causing damage to a vehicle.

Asked if he understood the charges, the defendant replied  that he did.

The court heard he had only been released from Hydebank Young Offenders Centre earlier this month.

Outlining the details to the court, a detective constable said that just before 1am on Tuesday police received a report of an attempted robbery.

The injured party said two men approached her and her friend in the Charlotte Street area of the town. One of the men – who police confirmed was the other defendant –  held a Stanley knife to the victims, demanding they hand over everything they had.

Both victims said they recognised one of the men to be the defendant.

About five minutes later, police received a report of a burglary at Great Georges Street, where the householder reported he was woken by the blinds rattling in his bedroom window.

He got out of bed and shouted ‘who’s there?’, and then saw that the window had been opened. On looked out of the window, he saw two men running out the gate.

Later that morning, a further report was received that approximately 1 o’clock, two man in hoodies had entered Slieve Foy Place in Warrenpoint, forced their way past the occupier, demanded car keys and bank cards and threatened to slit his throat.

The men stole £200 in cash, a black Toyota Yaris and a mobile phone.

The car was found burnt out in the Newry area, and the defendant was arrested at his home address.

Police said they were objecting to bail as the defendant was subject to bail conditions at the time of the offences, including a curfew, and the offences occurred within the curfew times.

They also said he had been identified by people involved in the attempted robbery, and that he represented a risk of reoffending.

A defence solicitor asked the detective to confirm that in the attempted robbery, it was the other man who wielded the Stanley knife, and not the defendant.

She confirmed this was the case.

District Judge Eamonn King said he was surprised by the bail address proposed.

“In my experience of Mr Connors, he has been excluded from that address by his mother who disowned him for the past five years at a minimum,”  he said.

“Unfortunately, Jimmy is know to me because he is a prolific offender and has chosen a career of criminality.”

He said he was refusing bail on all three counts – risk of further offences, interference with witnesses and that he would abscond.

In a police appeal for witnesses, police described the incidents as “absolutely terrifying for the victims, who understandably are very distressed by the ordeals they have been put through”.

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