Newtownards Court hears of 'concern' about arson-accused 84-year-old woman remaining in jail on remand

Newtownards Court hears of 'concern' about arson-accused 84-year-old woman remaining in jail on remand

A PENSIONER accused of 'arson endangering life with intent' allegedly put 'material' into a microwave on the day after her 84th birthday, Newtownards Magistrates Court was told.

Joyce Harriett Evans, with an address listed as Dufferin Square, Bangor, is charged with damaging, by fire, property at her home belonging to Choice Housing on October 10 last year 'intending to damage such property or being reckless as to whether such property would be damaged and intending thereby to endanger the lives of those in the premises'.

In February last year she is alleged to have made improper use of a public electronic communications network.

She is also charged with incidents on March 29 last year - assaulting two females; indecent behaviour at the Ulster Hospital and causing criminal damage to a floor at the hospital and to a PSNI car.

A defence lawyer said the defendant remains in custody. He said bail had been granted but it had not been perfected as she was unable to obtain suitable accommodation due to "complex health issues".

He said the accommodation had to be approved by social services and the police, "which is of some concern" taking into account her age.

The lawyer said efforts were being made to find an address but her "health needs are so complex it is very difficult obtaining suitable accommodation".

The lawyer said the defendant had not been allowed to return to her previous accommodation in Bangor where the "alleged arson took place".

The lawyer said the alleged arson was at "an apartment of her own but it was in a building where there were other people".

District Judge Mark Hamill said: "That's the snag when you are charged with arson with intent to endanger life".

The defence lawyer said what was alleged to have happened was that the defendant "put material into the microwave and put the microwave on and there was considerable smoke from the microwave and damage caused to that."

He added: "So the significance of the extent of the possible danger to life is unknown".

Judge Hamill wanted "progress", saying he was "concerned" about the defendant remaining in custody.

The defence lawyer told the court: "This could go on for some considerable period of time. If the Trust can't get accommodation this lady will remain in Hydebank where she shouldn't be at the present moment".

He said the charge sheet could be withdrawn and proceeded with on a later date.

The lawyer claimed the defendant's health needs "aren't really being met whilst" she is in custody.

Judge Hamill adjourned the case to March 9, saying: "This is a bit of a Catch-22 situation. Bail is not disputed but the question of a suitable bail address is the X factor here. I will put it back for two weeks to see what happens but I suspect absolutely nothing".

  • A fire occurred at this building in Bangor. Picture: Google Street View.