Northern Ireland

Lisburn burglary suspect claims he was free-running

Free-runner Image copyright Thinkstock/Michal
Image caption Free-running - a sport also known as parkour - involves jumping and climbing on walls and buildings in urban areas

A burglary suspect claimed he was practising the sport of free-running when he was caught on CCTV climbing on shop roofs, a court has been told.

Niall Barr, of Teeling Grove, Dunmurry, County Antrim, is charged with trying to break into three shops in Lisburn.

The High Court was told the 30-year-old climbed on the shop rooftops after watching a documentary on free-running.

The sport, also known as parkour, involves jumping and climbing on walls and buildings in urban areas.


Mr Barr's defence barrister told the High Court in Belfast that his client's explanation was "almost comedic", but said the accused had a long-standing alcohol problem.

The court heard that CCTV operators spotted Mr Barr on shop roofs in Bow Street in Lisburn city centre on 25 April.

A prosecution barrister said police were called and found the accused was drunk and struggling to form sentences.

"He explained that he was participating in the sport of parkour, also known as free-running," the barrister told the judge.

However, when the CCTV footage was examined, the recording allegedly showed him trying to break into a bookshop, a women's clothes shop and a health food store.

Mr Barr was arrested at work the next day and provided a statement "that he had been practising parkour, took a spasm in his back and was looking for an easier way down from the roofs", the prosecution said.

When police asked him if he was affiliated to any free-running clubs or groups, the accused made no comment, the court heard.

Alcohol ban

His defence barrister said Mr Barr was fuelled by alcohol when he scaled the buildings.

"He said he had watched this documentary the night before... and he decided to embark on this exercise," the barrister told the judge.

"It was not a case that he was involving himself in any attempts to burgle.

"He got up on the roof of this building, took a pain in his back and was trying to get back down."

The judge granted a request for bail but ordered Mr Barr to abide by a night-time curfew and electronic monitoring.

He also imposed an alcohol ban as part of his bail conditions.