Man in court over Newtownabbey car theft attempts

Image caption,
The accused appeared at Belfast Magistrates Court

A 31-year-old man has been remanded in custody 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 defendant, of no fixed address, faced three counts of burglary.

He is also accused of aggravated vehicle taking, damaging a pillar, and common assault to another car owner.

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

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.

Intruder in kitchen

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.

Mr Smyth was later arrested and charged with the offences.

Opposing bail, an investigating detective told Belfast Magistrates Court Mr Smyth 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, a judge said he "couldn't possibly consider bail".

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