Court hears 72-year-old pensioner used saucepan to repel intruder who stole £800 from his Coleraine home in the middle of the night

Court hears 72-year-old pensioner used saucepan to repel intruder who stole £800 from his Coleraine home in the middle of the night

A 'VULNERABLE' 72-year-old pensioner used a saucepan to repel a man who "gouged" his eyes and attempted to bite his face during a struggle in his Coleraine home in the middle of the night when £800 was stolen.

Details emerged at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, where Steven McCloskey (31), of Groves End Gardens, Coleraine, was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm; the theft of £800; and causing criminal damage to the pensioner's mobile phone and a kitchen plate on October 18 this year.

Objecting to bail, a police officer said the "vulnerable" 72-year-old, who he said suffers from health problems including arthritis, heard somebody knocking his door at Kylemore Road at 3am.

The householder got out of bed and a male, who was wearing "blue coloured shorts" and fitted a description of McCloskey, asked him for use of a cigarette lighter.

As the pensioner went to find a lighter the male "barged" his way past him into a kitchen.

The pensioner "pleaded" for him to leave and when he lifted a mobile phone to ring police it was grabbed by the intruder who smashed it on kitchen tiles.

The intruder then allegedly stole £800 from a pocket.

A scuffle ensued in the kitchen with the pensioner "screaming for help" but he was "pinned" against a kitchen door.

The police officer said the suspect "gouged" the pensioner in the eyes with his fingers; scraped him on the face and attempted to bite his face.

"Petrified", the officer added, the pensioner grabbed a small saucepan and struck the male three times on the head.

The male then left the house via the back door but was unable to scale a fence and then attempted to get back into the property through the back kitchen door but the occupant blocked the access.

The police officer said the male then stole a mountain bike which had been lying nearby and "attempted to cycle away from the scene".

At 6.50am police arrested McCloskey at Danes Hill Road in Coleraine when he was wearing blue shorts and had £680 in his possession.

The officer said he matched the description provided by the victim.

The court heard the bike was "not recovered".

The officer said that during a police interview the defendant made a comment about "dole money".

The policeman said McCloskey had 115 previous convictions and at the time of the alleged offence was on court bail with a condition that he should not be intoxicated in public.

When he was brought into custody in relation to the new matter he failed a breath test.

A defence solicitor said the bail breach was accepted.

He said McCloskey said the money he was caught with was "saved up benefits".

Refusing bail, District Judge Nigel Broderick said it was a "strong circumstantial case".

He said the description given by the complainant matched the defendant and after £800 was reported stolen the defendant was "found out and about at 6.50am with £680 in his pocket".

The judge said McCloskey had an "atrocious" criminal record.

Judge Broderick said there was a "high risk of further offending" and his address was "too close to the complainant".

The case was adjourned to November 2.