Page last updated at 16:37 GMT, Monday, 22 September 2008 17:37 UK

Wife tells of 26m hostage ordeal

Chris Ward
Mr Ward denies the charges against him

A woman held hostage during the 26.5m Northern Bank robbery has described how one captor said "republicans are going to get blamed for this".

Karyn McMullan, the wife of bank assistant manager Kevin McMullan, wept in court as she recalled her ordeal.

She was speaking at the trial of Chris Ward, 26, of Colinmill, Poleglass, who denies taking part in the Belfast robbery in December 2004.

Mrs McMullan said she feared for her life when she was held at gun-point.

Mrs McMullan said two men posing as policemen called at their home.

She said they arrived at the door of their house in Loughinisland on the evening of Sunday 19 December 2004 at about 2145 GMT.

She said they claimed they wanted to talk to her husband about a car accident.

The men followed the couple into the lounge.

But as she went to comfort her husband, one of them grabbed him and put a gun to his head.

She said she then felt someone grab her from behind and press a gun to the back of her head.

"The policeman was saying; 'If you co-operate no-body will get hurt,'" she told the court on Monday.

Mrs McMullan said one of the men then pushed her to the ground, sat on her back and told her to hold her hands out so that they could be tied.

She said she obeyed the order, telling the court: "I didn't feel I had a choice, I had a gun to the back of my head."

The men then turned off all the lights and questioned the couple about their home security, she said.

'Taped up'

The court had to be adjourned for an early lunch as Mrs McMullan broke down again when she described how black tape was wound around a woollen hat and pulled over her face.

Mrs McMullan said the bogus policemen were initially going to blindfold her with the black tape.

"This horrified me," she said.

The men allowed her to go to her bedroom to get a woollen hat, she said.

But as she dropped to her knees to pick it from a basket, the gunman appeared to panic. She realised he thought she had gone for a panic button.

The republicans are going to get blamed for this. Ian Paisley will have plenty to say about it.
Witness testimony

She said the hat was pulled "right down to my chin, right below my chin".

She became more distressed as she told the court: "Once they had the hat on, the policeman was holding me and the man with the tape proceeded to wind the tape round."

As she did so, her breathing became laboured as she demonstrated, with circular motions about her head, how she was taped up.

Mrs McMullan was taken to an isolated house and held there for several hours.

She said that near the end of her ordeal, she heard one of her captors saying, "I can't wait until tomorrow. The republicans are going to get blamed for this. Ian Paisley will have plenty to say about it."

Mr Ward further denies holding hostage his boss, Mr McMullan and his wife on a date between 18 and 21 December 2004.

The case continues.

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