Northern Ireland

Man accused of burglaries 'was out jogging'

High court
Image caption The hearing took place at Belfast High Court

An alleged serial burglar claimed he was out jogging when arrested by police near the scene of an attempted break-in, the High Court has been told.

John Little was detained in Ballygowan after he ran to a taxi called from east Belfast, prosecutors said.

The 37-year-old claimed he phoned it because of cramp during an early-morning six mile run last Thursday.

Mr Little, of Hornby Crescent, Belfast, faces three charges of burglary and one of attempted burglary.

The alleged offences relate to the theft of cigarettes from shops in Crumlin, Comber and Belfast earlier this month.

According to the prosecution he was then arrested following the attempted break-in at a filling station in Ballygowan where large football bags, a screwdriver and pliers were recovered at the scene.

Crown counsel Nicola Auret said: "The police officer instructs me this was at 5am and he was wet and muddy.

"He was hiding, made a run towards the taxi, saw police and ran off again."

However, Richard McConkey, defending, disputed the strength of the case against Little.

"He is a man who is regularly going out for runs, he is committed to fitness. It is not as ridiculous as it seems at first blush," the barrister said.

"He phoned a taxi having suffered from cramp. That came and he was standing on the corner, he wasn't hiding in hedges (as police said), and he was arrested by police.

"There isn't a shred of evidence to link this man to the burglary."

Mr Little was granted bail to stay at another agreed address in Belfast.

He was also curfewed, banned from travelling in private vehicles, and subjected to electronic monitoring.