Pensioner ‘found with feet bound together’

A 68-year-old man who was allegedly imprisoned in his own home was found in bed with his feet ‘bound together tightly with a pair of pyjama bottoms,’ a court has heard.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 1:09 pm
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

It is alleged the man, who has mobility issues, had been tied up by the hands and feet a number of times in the last couple of weeks.

Derry Magistrate’s Court heard yesterday that police believe 36-year-old Neil McFeely had ‘preyed on an elderly, vulnerable man to exploit him for his own gain’.

McFeely, whose address was given as the Banks of the Faughan Motel, is charged with burglary, false imprisonment, making a threat to kill and assaulting police on March 19.

He is further charged with disorderly behaviour in Altnagelvin Hospital and causing damage to a police vehicle on March 20.

The court heard that an ambulance and police went to the pensioner’s home in the Creggan area after a care alarm was disconnected.

It is alleged that on entering the house police found the elderly man in a bedroom, with his feet bound together, and the defendant.

The court heard allegations that McFeely ‘forcibly’ moved himself into the pensioner’s home a couple of weeks earlier and had tied him up a number of times.

It is further alleged the defendant threatened to kill the man, choked him and punched him to the chest.

During a search, the man’s bank card was allegedly found in McFeely’s wallet.

Derry Magistrate’s Court also heard that police found letters about unusual activity on the pensioner’s bank card and correspondence about internet banking in the pensioner’s home.

An investigating officer told the court the complainant did not have a mobile phone or the internet at his home and there was no way for him to access internet banking.

McFeely was arrested and it is alleged he spat in a police vehicle and at a police officer.

The 36-year-old was taken to hospital and he allegedly became disorderly shouting ‘f*** you and f*** the Queen’.

It is further alleged that after he was removed from the hospital, he urinated in a police cell van and told officers ‘I will p**s on you’.

During police interview, McFeely said he was living with the complainant, who was a family friend and someone he would drink with regularly.

He also allegedly claimed the man would give him his bank card to purchase alcohol.

The court heard McFeely told police he had no idea how the complainant was tied up.

However, the officer said that given the complainant’s obvious mobility issues ‘it would have been very difficult for him to do it himself’.

Opposing bail, the officer said the defendant has a number of relevant convictions and has previously been convicted of witness intimidation.

He added that police have concerns McFeely may interfere with witnesses, reoffend or breach bail.

The officer told the court the defendant has shown ‘little regard for court orders in the past’ and a number of bench warrants had been issued.

Defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott said McFeely ‘doesn’t understand why the complainant’s legs were tied’.

He added that his client denies any wrongdoing in respect of the pensioner.

Mr MacDermott said the 36-year-old had known the complainant since he was a young boy and they would regularly drink together.

He also told the court that the 36-year-old said he was in the property at the invitation of the pensioner, to keep him company.

The solicitor said his client maintains he would only ever use the pensioner’s bank card with ‘express permission’ to purchase alcohol for him.

He added that the defendant believes that evidence from his mobile phone and CCTV from the off-licence will confirm these claims.

Mr MacDermott applied for the 36-year-old to be released on bail, with strict conditions imposed to allay police concerns.

Deputy District Judge Liam McStay said that it was a ‘critical importance’ that the complainant be protected while the court process is ongoing.

He said he was satisfied that the risks could be managed by the imposition of bail conditions.

The judge released McFeely on his own bail of £500 and banned him from having any contact with the complainant.

The defendant is also prohibited from entering the cityside, from being intoxicated in a public place and from consuming non-prescribed drugs.

McFeely will appear in court again on April 15.