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Man branded 'menace to society' remanded accused of having chainsaw as weapon

District Judge Mark Hamill declared 'he hasn’t a hope of me granting bail'
Lionel 'Rusty' Close

Lionel 'Rusty' Close

Paul Higgins

A man branded by a judge as a “menace to society” has been remanded into custody accused of having a chainsaw as a weapon.

In addition, 34-year-old Lionel ‘Rusty’ Close was also accused of breaking into a property as he tried to evade police and refusing to free him, District Judge Mark Hamill declared “he hasn’t a hope of me granting bail.”

“I want to be quoted on this as the resident District Judge in Ards that this man is a menace to society,” said DJ Hamill on Tuesday.

Close, originally from north Down but now with an address at Owenreagh Drive in Newtownabbey, appeared at Newtownards Magistrates Court by videolink from police where he was charged with possessing a weapon and burglary on June 13 this year.

Giving evidence a police constable outline how Close was captured on CCTV at a property on the Stump Road in Ballywalter, lifting a chainsaw from the front garden and pulling the starting cord when the potentially lethal tool was “about a foot from a child’s face.”

According to neighbours who contacted the police over the head of the “disturbance”, Close went into the house with the chainsaw still running before he drove away from that scene.

According to the police case, the scene then moved to a property in East Street in Ards and the officer disclosed the woman who lives there had left to collect her partner, leaving the door unlocked and the light on.

When she returned however, the light was off and the door was locked so she contacted the police who found Close inside.

Defence solicitor Patrick Higgins argued that although charged with burglary, the defendant “will not be found guilty of that” because his motivation was not to steal but to evade the police who were hunting him.

Equally, the solicitor was adamant that Close did not have the chainsaw illegally but rather “he was checking it was working” because he was due to “tidy up the garden” of his partner’s house the day after.

As DJ Hamill incredulously put it, “so I’m not guilty of burglary but I’m not guilty because I was simply dodging the police and you want me to grant him bail?”

"He hasn’t a hope of me granting him bail,” said the judge, “his record is appalling… I have described him before as a menace to society and he seems, on the face of it, determined to prove me right.”

Remanding Close into custody, DJ Hamill adjourned the case to July 6.


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