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Coleraine Court hears ‘burglar ate a bowl of cornflakes’ before allegedly assaulting pensioner

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A MAN accused of breaking into a house and eating a “bowl of cornflakes” before assaulting and injuring a pensioner in his 80s has been remanded in continuing custody and the case further adjourned.

David Campbell (50) is charged with assault and stealing food in a burglary of a dwelling at Mullaghacall Road in Portstewart.

The charges relate to an incident around 4.30am on Sunday November 29 last year.

At the time of the incident a PSNI spokesman had said a pensioner “sustained bruising after a confrontation with the intruder and was left badly shaken as a result of the incident.”

At a previous court case a police officer objected to bail saying the elderly householder heard a bedroom door opening and closing and then found the defendant eating in his kitchen before the pensioner “was grabbed by the arm”.

A defence lawyer had told the earlier court he didn’t think it was a matter that was “going to trouble the court”.

He had added: “I get the impression that the commission of this offence wasn’t so much that dishonesty was engaged, it was just simply a case whereby he was operating under a cloud of alcohol and in the haze of intoxication”.

He said Campbell had in recent years been “living a life of vagrancy” and had “issues with alcohol”.

The previous court appearance heard the defendant had 62 previous offences including 24 for burglary.

Campbell, with an address at a hostel in Church Street in Portstewart, was refused bail when he first appeared in court in connection with the Portstewart allegations and remanded in custody .

At Coleraine Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, this week a prosecutor said the case is “likely” to go to Crown Court and she suggested an adjournment of four weeks for the directing officer “to consider further information that has been obtained”.

Regarding the length of time of the latest adjournment, a defence lawyer said the defendant was in custody at present and added: “My only concern is, whilst I am not trying to underplay the aggravating features of this case, it was in a sense, burglary of a bowl of cornflakes. Obviously, there was an additional common assault.

“However, it is just questionable, whether or not allowing this man to remain in custody for that length of period is going to be reflective of the ultimate sentence in this case”.

The court heard the defendant has served the equivalent of a four months sentence already on remand.

District Judge Peter King agreed they needed to see progress towards either a Preliminary Enquiry – the legal step to send a case to the Crown Court – or bail in the next four weeks.

The defence lawyer said it was not a “complicated case” and he was a “little bit baffled” as to what was holding up the prosecution.

The case has been adjourned to mid-February and Judge King said if they were not in a position to fix a Preliminary Enquiry then he would consider bail because at that stage there will have been the equivalent of a six months sentence.

The judge said the defendant had a “difficult record” and the defence lawyer said he was not trying to downplay that.

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