A forty-one-year-old man has appeared in court following a stand-off with police having armed himself with a chainsaw and hatchets, while issuing threats. The scene was attended by an armed response unit as well as ambulance and fire crews, who were required to remain until the defendant was finally arrested.
Derek Ian Smyth from Culmore Park, Omagh is charged with possessing offensive weapons namely two hatchets, damaging a window, threatening to kill a woman and to destroy her house and possessing a quantity of cannabis.
A police officer told Dungannon Magistrates Court the charges could be connected.
He explained at round 2pm on June 14, police responded to a report of criminal damage close to Smyth’s address. It was claimed he was banging at the door of a neighbouring property which causing a glass panel to break.
Another neighbour contacted police after witnessing Smyth “scraping a hatchet along a wall”, then return to his home.
On arrival officers asked him to come to the door but he refused to co-operate and made threats to officers on their safety and his own.
A two-and-a-half-hour stand-off followed until Smyth during which he was in possession of a chainsaw, finally came out and was arrested.
A search of his home recovered two hatchets, the chainsaw and a small amount of suspect cannabis.
Later that day further reports came in from neighbours who described an incident before the stand-off in which Smyth issued threatened: “I’ll burn you all out, b*****ds. I’ll kill you.”
He was interviewed in respect of all matters replying ‘no comment’ throughout.
The officer opposed bail as: “There is a risk of committing further offences. All victims reside close by. Police also believe there is a risk he may fail to appear. There are previous bench warrants and a history of non-compliance with bail conditions. We have concerns due to the seriousness of the allegations and how he was arrested.”
Smyth interrupted several times until District Judge Michael Ranaghan ordered the custody suite microphone to be muted.
Contending bail could be granted, a defence barrister suggested concerns could be addressed by Smyth residing eight miles away with his mother in Dromore. He added as all offending is related to substance abuse, a drug and alcohol prohibition as a bail condition could ensure Smyth knew any breach would see him arrested.
Judge Ranaghan said, “I appreciate the seriousness of an incident is not a reason on its own to refuse bail. Nevertheless, this was a particularly serious incident involving an armed response unit along with members of the ambulance and fire service, which lasted for a number of hours. I add that to the defendant’s history of bench warrants. I have concerns around risk or reoffending and failure to attend court. I’m not saying anything about interference with witnesses as I think that speaks for itself. Bail is refused.”
Smyth is to appear again by video-link next month.