Man on kidnap charge ‘drove at police officer’

Newtownards Court
Newtownards Court

A Belfast man accused of kidnapping his partner allegedly drove at an off-duty sergeant who tried to save her, a court heard on Thursday.

Standing in the dock of Newtownards Magistrates Court, 25-year-old Matthew Gillard was charged with kidnapping his partner, false imprisonment by holding her against her will, common assault, assaulting a police officer and driving dangerously, all alleged to have occurred on 4 April this year.

A detective constable told the court he believed he could connect Gillard to each of the charges and that police were objecting to his release on bail amid fears that he would interfere with the investigation or would take flight to Wales.

He outlined how Gillard and his partner were in his Seat Toledo car in east Belfast when he “started questioning her about who she was seeing and her use of social media” but that she was concerned for her safety when his “tone became loud”.

The woman tried to get out of the car but Gillard allegedly put the vehicle into reverse and drove off at speed, racing through a red light on Bloomfield Avenue.

“The whole time the injured party pleaded for him to let her go as she was being held against her will and he refused, saying he wasn’t finished with her yet,” claimed the officer.

When the car reached the Belfast Road in Comber, Gillard parked on a side road “and the injured party saw this as her chance to get away” but as she opened the door to get out, “The defendant grabbed her back and held her with his arm around her neck taking her keys, phone and purse.”

In an effort to escape, Gillard’s victim bit him twice on the arm and he let go so she got out and ran off but he allegedly drove after her blocking her path, “almost hitting a member of the public”.

The detective constable described how an off-duty police sergeant saw Gillard carry his alleged victim over his shoulder and “trailed her back to the car” but when the Sergeant tried to intervene, standing at the front of the car to stop Gillard driving off, he allegedly drove his car at the officer forcing him to get out of the way.

As the woman pleaded for his help, the sergeant ran alongside the car and managed to get the keys from the ignition through the open driver’s window, said the officer, but during a struggle between the off-duty officer and Gillard, he wrenched the keys from his grasp and sped off with the woman still in the car.

A short time later Gillard let her go in the Grand Parade area of east Belfast.

Gillard, from Connsbrook Avenue in east Belfast, later handed himself in to police at Bangor station on Wednesday but during police interviews, he refused to answer questions put to him.

The detective constable said police feared that if released Gillard would interfere with his alleged victim’s account and was likely to abscond to Wales, revealing that on a social media site Gillard had posted a message that he intended to go to Cardiff.

His defence solicitor submitted that he could be released under stringent conditions that would assuage police fears including having to live at an address far removed from that of his alleged victim who, it is understood, is now seeking a non-molestation order against Gillard.

Deputy District Judge Sean O’Hare disagreed however and remanded Gillard into custody to appear again via video link on May 1.