Pair charged with car hijacking '˜may have used toy gun'

A toy gun may have been used to hijack a woman's car on the outskirts of north Belfast, a court has heard.

Monday, 20th November 2017, 4:57 pm
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 11:35 pm

A judge was also told two men accused of taking her Vauxhall Corsa last Friday morning were allegedly under the influence of drink or drugs.

Details emerged as the pair appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court charged with seizing the vehicle in the Grays Lane area of Newtownabbey and driving it to Templepatrick.

Stephen McCann, a 19-year-old mechanic from St Quentin Park in Newtownabbey, and Paul O’Neill, 24, of no fixed abode, are jointly accused of hijacking, aggravated taking and causing damage to a vehicle, and driving when unfit.

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The pair also face counts of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear or violence, and having an offensive weapon in public, namely a lock knife.

O’Neill did not seek bail and was remanded in custody to appear again next week.

Opposing McCann’s application for release, a PSNI officer said: “Both Stephen and his co-accused refused to provide police with details of the whereabouts of the firearm used to commit this hijacking.”

Defence solicitor Ciaran Toner argued that investigating detectives now suspect the weapon may not have been real.

“It’s their belief that this was a toy gun,” he said.

But District Judge Fiona Bagnall suggested that was irrelevant.

“The impact on the injured party is exactly the same,” she stressed.

“The concern is still sustainable that this item could be used again.”

Mr Toner told the court McCann was arrested 100 metres from where the car was located, and claimed a description of the hijacker does not match his client.

Granting bail, Mrs Bagnall banned McCann from contacting his co-accused, and imposed an alcohol and drugs prohibition.

He is due back in court again in January.