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South Armagh man accused of kidnapping and possession of ammunition to face Crown Court

Among other things she alleges he grabbed her by the hair and throat, poured dishwater over her and threatened to burn down her house and that of a friend

Newry Courthouse

A South Armagh man accused of a litany of charges including kidnapping and possession of ammunition without a certificate will face Crown Court proceedings later this year.

The 27-year-old appeared at Newry Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday for the purposes of a preliminary enquiry (PE), the legal process during which a case is referred to the higher court.

Neil Byrne, of Mill Road in Mullaghbawn, is charged with kidnapping, attempted criminal damage, two counts of criminal damage, possession of firearm or imitation with intent to cause fear of violence, three counts of common assault and possession of ammunition without a certificate.

As the charges were read, it was heard that these offences are alleged to have occurred between March 20 and May 23, of last year.

At a previous court hearing, a detective outlined how the police investigation began on May 18, when officers received a phone call that the alleged victim was “being dragged into the defendant’s car” at a location in Newry.

Officers went to her home and arrested Byrne for kidnapping, said the officer, adding that he was then freed on police bail pending further enquiries.

As part of those enquiries, the court heard how the complainant underwent three Achieving Best Evidence video interviews with officers where she alleged there had been repeated incidents of domestic abuse during their relationship.

She alleged that Byrne had:
* pointed a handgun at her and threatened “I will use this if I have to.”

*Grabbed her by the hair and throat, pinching her several times

* Poured dishwater over her

* Followed her around Newry

* Threatened to burn down her home and her friend’s home

* Stole her phone to send threatening messages to friends

* Climbed onto the roof of her home and “banged” the windows.

Arrested and interviewed, Byrne did accept that he had pushed her to the ground at one stage and had been on the roof of her house but denied that he had assaulted her, choked her, pointed a gun at her or that he had threatened her.

During a search of Byrne’s house, police also recovered a quantity of blank firing rounds, the court heard, and that his gun licence was revoked last year when there had been an earlier allegation of domestic violence made which was later withdrawn by the complainant.

Appearing in court on Wednesday, Byrne made no objection to the holding of a preliminary enquiry.

Prosecution submitted that based on the papers before the court there was a prima facie case to answer.

Defence solicitor Bernadette Rafferty made no contrary submissions.

District Judge Eamonn King said that he was satisfied there was a prima facie case to answer.

The defendant was released on continuing bail to appear before Newry Crown Court on August 26 for arraignment.

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