Bail refused again in £2,900 bar theft case

Bail has been refused for the third time in the case against a 20 year-old Strabane man charged with stealing close to £3,000 from a Derry bar.

A fresh application was made before Derry Magistrate’s Court yesterday to have Stephen Holmes of Greeves Park, Strabane released on bail on the charges of stealing £2,900 from Rochester’s Bar on November 8 last year.

The court was told the 20 year-old has been on remand in Hydebank Young Offenders Centre since he was charged in connection with burglary after police identified him on CCTV images from the bar.

Objecting to the bail application the investigating officer from the PSNI said that from the money that was stolen on the night of the burglary only £700 had been recovered - leaving in excess of £2000 outstanding.

She said she believed the defendant would be at a high risk of reoffending as he was currently on probation for another matter and had previously failed to answer to his bail.

The police case is that Holmes was seen on CCTV lifting a shutter in the bar at Rochesters - which is situated in the Ebrington Centre - and gaining access to a safe.

A defence barrister acting for the accused said his client had spent close to three months already on remand. He argued that as the police file on the investigation had just been completed it would “not be unrealistic” to assume it could be at least another four months before the matter could come to trial.

The barrister said it was his assertion that while the offence in question was a serious matter it had certain mitigating factors when it came to sentencing outcomes - notably that the bar was not a domestic residence and that no violence had been used.

“It is my respective submission that when it comes to the ceiling for sentencing for such offences we are perilously close to having this man serve more time on remand than he would receive as a sentence.”

Presiding judge Anne Marshall said Holmes would be “very lucky” if he only received a six month sentence upon conviction and agreed that he was at a high risk of reoffending. She refused bail and ordered that he appear on remand again, via videolink, on March 6.