Published Friday, 15 August 2014
The robbery happened in Carryduff last September. (© UTV)
Remanding 54-year-old Kieran Smyth back into custody at Newtownards Magistrates' Court, District Judge Des Perry said the case he faced was "of the utmost gravity."
He had heard earlier that as well as tying up the elderly couple and their son after bursting into their Carryduff home last September, the terrified family were threatened with a gun and the son with having his fingers cut off.
Smyth, from Springfield Avenue in west Belfast, is charged with robbing £6,000 in cash, cheques and jewellery, three counts of false imprisonment, making a threat to kill, possessing a gun and a knife with intent to commit robbery and the theft of a Mercedes car, all on 11 September last year.
Judge Perry heard that the 82-year-old man and his son had just returned home from the family business in Ballynahinch when the masked gang, one of whom was brandishing a handgun, accosted them in the driveway and frogmarched them into the house where the 76-year-old woman was.
Tying them up at their hands and feet, one of the gang lifted a kitchen knife and threatened to cut off the fingers of the couples' son if they didn't hand over cash and valuables.
After ripping phone lines from the walls, the gang sped off in the lady's Mercedes car, leaving the family tied up with a warning that the house was being watched - but the elderly lady managed to free her from her binds and called the police from a mobile phone.
Officers spotted the stolen Mercedes on the Malone Road in south Belfast and after a short chase, coming to an abrupt end when the car crashed, Smyth and another man were arrested - but their alleged accomplice managed to get away and remains at large.
While the son's Rolex watch, cash and tie clips were uncovered on the two arrested men, the gun allegedly used in the incident has not been found.
Arrested and interviewed, Smyth refused to answer police questions.
A prosecuting lawyer said that to date "progress is good" as all forensic reports have now been received so a date for Preliminary Enquiry could be set at the next court appearance.
Defence lawyer Eugene McKenna, however, said that there had been significant delays in the case since Smyth was first arrested and that given his archaic criminal record, he was suitable for bail.
Refusing the bail application, however, Judge Perry fixed the Preliminary Enquiry date for 26 September and extended legal aid to include a defence barrister.
© UTV News