A TEEENAGER, who is suspected of being part of a cross-border crime gang that has carried out nearly 50 organised shoplifting raids on stores in border areas of the North, has been refused bail, after a judge ruled he posed a flight risk.
Terry Ward (18) from Station Road in Ballyshannon appeared before Enniskillen Magistrates Court on Monday via videolink from Hydebank Prison where he has been in custody since July.
Details of the theft incidents, estimated to be in the region of £8,000, emerged as bail was refused to the father-of-two who faces six charges relating to theft in parts of Counties Fermanagh and Tyrone on July 28th.
The court heard that trolleys were loaded up with around £340 bottles of vodka and whiskey by men who targeted supermarkets in Ballinamallard, Kesh and Omagh over the course of a few hours.
Ward is also charged with stealing washing powder to the value of £18 and shopping baskets.
Prosecutors said Ward is suspected of being part of a gang targeting towns near the border in counties Derry, Fermanagh and Tyrone in incidents involving the “same faces and same vehicles”.
District Judge Nigel Broderick was told that 49 incidents of criminal damage, robbery and theft are being investigated, 40 of which are supported by CCTV evidence. It was further stated that the complex investigation is ongoing and that those suspected of being involved are being closed monitored by police.
Ward was arrested as he tried to get across the border at Belcoo bridge with other men who managed to escape into the Republic. He has been in custody since the date of the offences having previously been refused bail twice including at the High Court in Belfast in early August.
Defence barrister Ciaran Roddy made a further application at Monday’s hearing, stating that his client had already served in excess of a three month sentence.
Judge Broderick was told that Ward was still part of a live cross-border investigation and when interviewed by police in relation to the thefts, he admitted being present but answered “no comment” when probed further.
The judge told the court that as Ward lives outside the jurisdiction, there was a risk of flight. Mr Roddy said a bail address in the North could be confirmed and an independent surety of £500 was available to be lodged with the court.
He added that his client had no record and was prepared to abide by any bail conditions which the court would impose.
“He is married with two children and his wife is having difficulty coping with the children on her own.
His priority is to get out of prison and attend to his family,” Mr Roddy added.
Denying bail, the judge said: “It is unlikely that he will turn up for court as he lives in another jurisdiction and there is a risk of further offences”.
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