Dungannon man admits ‘potentially murderous’ petrol bombing of home containing his toddler son

Dungannon Court
Dungannon Court

The actions of a Moygashel man who placed five petrol bombs at the door of his three-year old son’s home have been described as ‘potentially murderous’.

Stuart Harkness, 25, from Moygashel Park, was appearing at East Tyrone Magistrates Court to apply for bail following his arrest on February 9.

Stuart Harkness

Stuart Harkness

He is charged with six offences linked to three alleged petrol bomb attacks on a Dungannon household on February 9, and on cars on January 20 and February 3.

Objecting to a bail application, a detective constable told the court that police had received reports of three separate petrol bomb incidents at a Woodvale Park address over the last month.

He stated that after the second alleged attack, CCTV was installed and as a result they had arrested the defendant after “a box of petrol bombs were placed at the door and set alight”.

The officer said that Harkness denies the first two incidents.

“We believe all the incidents are attributed to a breakdown in the relationship between the defendant and the (householder’s) daughter,” he said.

He further stated that during each incident a three-year old boy, Harkness’ son, was present inside the property.

The detective constable said that the family have been left “terrified” that the attacks will continue if the defendant is released on bail.

Mr Craig Patton, defending, told the court that the case had a “long history” with serious accusations being made “back and forth”.

He stated that his client, who has admitted the matter of February 9, had been “driven to a moment of madness” and that several members of his family had agreed to act as surety.

“The court is not concerned with his flight,” District Judge John Meehan interrupted Mr Patton, “but with the risk of reoffending.

“That is the second time you have used that phrase, ‘a moment of madness’.

“This man admits the matter of February 9... he prepared these bombs in his house and drove to the address when five petrol bombs were placed below the bedroom of his three-year old son.

“He then set them alight before running off and making attempts to avoid detection. It was premeditated... and potentially murderous,” he told the court.

Refusing bail, Judge Meehan said that the charges were “far, far too serious” to release the defendant.

The case is adjourned until March 9 when Harkness will appear in court via video link to HMP Maghaberry.