Hijacking accused went missing for three weeks

The courts will be bombarded with taxpayer funded legal challenges if rights-based Irish language provision is approved
The courts will be bombarded with taxpayer funded legal challenges if rights-based Irish language provision is approved

An alleged hijacker accused of discarding his electronic tag went missing for nearly three weeks because he was under threat, a court has heard.

Michael Cassidy was only arrested again after being discovered hiding behind a car in Belfast’s gasworks area, a judge was told.

The 22-year-old, of Antrim Road in the city, faces charges of attempted hijacking, having a knife in public and threats to kill.

He faces further counts of common assault, the theft of sunglasses and attempted wounding.

The alleged offences relate to a bid to seize control of a Volkswagen Golf in Newcastle, Co Down in June this year.

Cassidy had been on bail, but is accused of having failed to comply with release terms since October 11.

A detective told Belfast Magistrates’ Court: “The tag was removed, it’s presumed he removed it because he went AWOL.”

Cassidy is now to face further charges of criminal damage and theft over the missing monitoring device.

Defence solicitor Brendan Blaney argued that his client’s alleged breach of bail conditions was due to a threat against him.

He also revealed that the accused’s family have carried out investigations and established that it had been a case of mistaken identity.

“It is no longer valid, which is why Mr Cassidy made his way back to the city centre,” the lawyer added.

Following submissions the judge decided to readmit Cassidy to bail.

He ordered him to abide by a curfew, tagging and to report daily to police.