A grieving brother of murdered west Belfast pizza delivery driver Kieran McManus, who blames himself for his shooting a year ago, was yesterday jailed for seven years for robbery and a car-jacking which left a policeman injured.
Joseph McManus, from Orchard Hill, Crumlin, who had been on compassionate bail for his brother’s funeral, was also told that when the authorities decide it is safe to free him, he will serve an extended five-year period on supervised licensed parole.
Defence lawyer Neil Fox said an apologetic 28-year-old McManus, who believes his brother’s killers were trying to get at him, “simply could not deal with his grief” and “lost control” when his dangerous driving injured the policeman, on April 6 last year.
Mr Fox said that McManus had panicked because he was unlawfully at large, but now wished to apologise to the injured officer and also to the court, because he felt “particularly bad” as he had been on compassionate bail at the time.
“It was an act of desperation ... really a cry for help,” he added.
His 26-year-old brother was gunned down outside Domino’s pizza takeaway shop at Kennedy Way, Andersonstown, on March 30 2013 by a lone masked gunman as he was about to head out on a delivery run.
Yesterday Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland told McManus that with 176 previous convictions, mostly road traffic, but also involving assaults, kidnapping, robbery, possession of an offensive weapon and making threats to kill, he had an appalling record, which was a further aggravating factor.
In all McManus pleaded guilty to two separate sets of offending, beginning in October 2011 when involved in a series of robberies of several students in Belfast as they walked home from a night out, and then the driving offences while out on compassionate bail last April.
Prosecution lawyer David McAughey said that police had been alerted to the hijacking of a car which was later found burnt-out in the Hannaghstown Hill area. As police arrived on the scene, “those responsible” made off in a silver Renault Megane, which was later spotted in the car park 0f the nearby Suffolk Inn.
Mr McAughey said as an officer attempted to snatch the keys from the ignition, McManus drove off, with the officer still clutching on to the car door.
At one point McManus drove at a police Land Rover and the officer received several “crushing injuries”, fracturing a number of his ribs.