75-year-old man ‘badly beaten’ during alleged burglary in Galliagh

Three people have appeared in court charged in connection with an aggravated burglary in which a 75-year-old man was assaulted.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 1:24 pm

The defendants are Ryan Harkin (28), his partner, 48-year-old Fiona Callaghan and her daughter, 22-year-old Caitlin Callaghan.

The charges include aggravated burglary, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, criminal damage and blackmail on March 12.

Derry Magistrate’s Court heard allegations that a man and two women entered a property in the Galliagh area and shouted a number of accusations at the resident, a 75-year-old man.

One of those present was allegedly armed with a knife and a ‘club type object’.
It is alleged the elderly man was ‘badly beaten’ during the alleged incident and sustained severe bruising to his face and body and had to get stitches to wounds on his head.

The court was told that the trio demanded money and the pensioner gave them £140.
It is alleged a video was then made of the man and he was ‘forced to make admissions’ to whatever they told him to.
An investigating officer said the man was told to pay the trio £200 each month or they would return to his property and assault him or share this video.

He said that police were provided with a description of the three people who left the complainant’s home and the defendants, who were arrested approximately 200 metres away, allegedly matched the description.

During interview, Harkin denied being at the property and claimed he was in the area walking a dog.

Fiona Callaghan allegedly told police she was in the property along with Harkin and her daughter, and Caitlin Callaghan also allegedly admitted being at the property.
Bail was opposed for fear of interfering with witnesses and fear of further offences.

The investigating officer said Harkin has previous convictions for burglary and is currently on bail for two other burglaries where the residents are elderly.

In relation to Fiona and Caitlin Callaghan, the officer said police have concerns that they will interfere with the complainant or other witnesses.

Defence solicitor Seamus Quigley, acting for all three defendants, applied for his clients to be released on bail.

Deputy District Judge Liam McStay granted Fiona and Caitlin Callaghan bail subject to a number of conditions, including a ban on having any contact with the complainant. Harkin was refused bail due to his ‘prolific record’ and remanded in custody.

All three defendants are due to appear in court again on April 8.