Man denies taking part in Larne shotgun attack

Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 11th September 2017

The scene on the Brustin Brae Road outside Larne in Co. Antrim where shots were fired at a property along with a vehicle being set on fire in the early hours of Monday morning. 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 11th September 2017 The scene on the Brustin Brae Road outside Larne in Co. Antrim where shots were fired at a property along with a vehicle being set on fire in the early hours of Monday morning. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

A man accused of the attempted murder of a family when shots were fired at a house in Larne as part of an ongoing feud claimed he was instead out hunting on the night in question, a court has heard.

Clayton Hastings (24) of Glenview Cottages near Glenarm, appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

He is charged with attempting to murder ‘James and Aislinn Hassin and family’ on Monday September 11 at Brustin Brae Road in Larne.

He is further charged with carrying a sawn-off shotgun with intent to commit an offence.

He is also charged with hijacking a Volkswagen Bora and the aggravated taking and damaging of the vehicle on the same date.

The Hassin family’s home was targeted around 2am on September 11 and the attack included a shot being fired at a bedroom window were three young children were asleep.

A car was set alight against the property. No-one was injured in the attack.

Two Larne men, aged 30 and 23, have already appeared in court charged in connection with the attack.

Security was tight and a number of police officers were present in and around the court building on Wednesday.

A police officer said he believed he could connect the accused, who was wearing a hoodie and was handcuffed in the dock, to the charges.

The detective constable said police had CCTV evidence from the Drumahoe Gardens area of Larne where firearms were found after the attack. He said police believe a stolen Peugeot car was in the area.

He said police also have CCTV footage showing the accused in Coleraine on the day the vehicle was purchased.

The officer said Hastings provided police with an alibi relating to the night of the shooting, saying he was out “hunting” in the Kilwaughter area.

The officer said police believe phone records show the accused “moving around Larne at the time he said he was hunting”.

The detective told the court said police were objecting to bail as there was a likelihood of further offences.

He said there had been 18 attacks on vehicles, eight attacks on properties and three assaults as part of an “ongoing feud between loyalists and Mr Hassin and his associates and family”.

Defence lawyer Dennis Boyd said there was no evidence to link the accused to the crime scene or no evidence of him being in the Peugeot car.

He said the evidence against his client was “circumstantial” and added: “There is literally nothing to put this man anywhere near the scene”.

District Judge Peter King was told a co-accused had been granted bail at the same court on Saturday.

Judge King said he would release Hastings on his own bail of £1,000 with a £5,000 surety with a night time curfew and electronic tagging.

The defendant is banned from entering Larne and is not to contact the injured parties or any co-accused.

The case was adjourned until October.