Ballymena Deal or No Deal winner’s ‘vicious and frightening’ robbery ordeal

Linda Moore won �23,000 on Deal or No Deal
Linda Moore won �23,000 on Deal or No Deal

A gardener accused of carrying out an armed and violent raid on the home of a television game show winner must remain in custody, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Horner refused Jonathan Lyttle’s bail application after being told a three-man gang forced their way into a house in Ballymena, Co Antrim claiming to be from the INLA.

Linda Moore had an apparent pistol pointed at her before her husband Dale was hit with a hammer by the intruders demanding money, it was alleged.

Around £1,600 in cash was taken before the men escaped, prosecutors said.

According to the judge the family had been subjected to a “frightening and vicious” ordeal on November 28.

He said: “One cannot begin to contemplate the physical and mental scars left by the attack.”

Lyttle, 35 and from Glenluce Walk in Belfast, faces charges of possessing a pistol with intent to endanger life, carrying a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence, aggravated burglary and theft, causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Mr Moore, and a common assault on Mrs Moore.

She is reported to have scooped £23,000 as a contestant on the Channel 4 game show Deal or No Deal earlier this year.

The court heard how she answered the door at her Moat Road home just before 3pm to be confronted by a man in a high-visibility jacket talking about manhole covers.

Conor Maguire, prosecuting, said the caller then barged in, brandishing what appeared to be a pistol.

Two other masked men followed him inside, claiming to be from the INLA and seeking cash, he continued.

Mr Moore was then assaulted with a hammer, suffering a significant cut to his head.

According to Mr Maguire the money was handed over after the couple believed they heard a shot being discharged.

Their two young children were also at home at the time.

The men escaped in a waiting car and mounted the footpath in an attempt to avoid a bus, the court heard.

Less than an hour later Lyttle and a second accused were arrested when a Volkswagen Passat was stopped in Newtownabbey.

Although no weapons or cash was recovered, the car is to be subjected to forensic examinations.

Defence counsel Michael Boyd argued that his client has not been identified in the victims’ accounts.

But refusing bail, Mr Justice Horner held there was a risk of either reoffending or interfering with the investigation.

He added: “This was a frightening and vicious attack on a law-abiding family of mother and father and two children.”