Child almost struck by hijacked car

A child was nearly struck by a hijacked car which was performing handbrake turns in west Belfast, a court heard today.

Prosecutors claimed 37-year-old Malachy Goodman was behind the wheel of a Vauxhall Corsa seized at a filling station on Saturday evening.

He was arrested after the vehcile crashed some time later in the Whiterock area of the city.

Goodman, of Ballymurphy Parade in the city, appeared at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on a total of 15 charges, including hijacking and aggravated vehicle taking causing both injury and damage to the vehicle.

He also faces counts of driving while disqualified and without insurance and failing to stop, report or remain at the scene of an accident.

The alleged offences relate to the Corsa being seized after a couple pulled into a garage on Finaghy Road North.

Police said the male driver got out to buy food, leaving a female passenger inside the vehicle.

A hijacker then allegedly took control of the car, driving off before the woman passenger managed to exit the vehicle.

The vehicle travelled across west Belfast before it was involved in a collision.

Members of the public then detained a suspect.

An investigating detective told the court she could connect Goodman to the charges, and opposed his application for bail.

Prosecution counsel put it to her: “Would it be correct to say that one of many allegations is that he did handbrake turns on the Whiterock Road, in close proximity to a number of children, nearly hitting one of them, and clipping the kerb?”

The detective replied: “That’s correct.”

Defence solicitor Damien Trainor acknowledged the seriousness of the allegations.

But he also disputed the hijacking charge against his client.

“He’s entitled to the presumption of innocence,” Mr Trainor insisted.

Bail was refused, however, due to the potential risk of re-offending and potential threat to the public.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall remanded Goodman in custody, to appear again by video-link next month