Londonderry Magistrate’s Court has heard how a 19-year-old who appeared on a series of driving offences, including aggravated vehicle taking, had been shot five times in a punishment style attack.
Applying for anonymity for his client who was charged along with a 14-year-old juvenile, solicitor Seamus Quigley said his client was in fear of his life.
District Judge Barney McElholm granted the application for anonymity forthe time being. The court heard that the two defendants were seen driving a Ford Galaxy stolen in Carndonagh in County Donegal in the Whitehouse Road area of Londonderry on September 1. A police officer told the court he believed the two were ‘part of a wider group actively involved in vehicle theft.’ He said that in this case the keys of the Ford Galaxy were stolen some six weeks ago. The court heard the home owner boxed the car in every night as she could not afford to replace the keys just yet. However, the officer said she ‘let her guard down’ once and the thieves had struck and stolen the car. The court heard that the car was spotted by police who gave chase as they believed the two occupants did not know how to drive.
The car was travelling at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour and eventually crashed into a ditch and two males were seen exiting the vehicle. Both were arrested a short distance away. At interview, the juvenile said he did not know the car had been stolen or else ‘he would have worn a big coat, hat and gloves.’ He described riding in the stolen car and getting chased by police as ‘dandy.’
The 19-year-old claimed he had bought the car valued at E3,000 for £150 but the police officer said his account was inconsistent. Objecting to bail the officer said that while the driving may be referred to as ‘joy riding’ in the police view it was ‘death driving’ and both accused posed a serious risk of harm to themselves and others. He said the older man had told police should he be released, he would be out doing the same thing in a BMW. The police officer said that both defendants had ‘a clear, unapologetic liking for driving in stolen cars.’ Mr Quigley asked had the pair not lost some of their cockiness ‘now they are looking down the barrel of custody.’ District Judge McElholm said he had no choice but to release the youth on bail but warned him that if he breached it in any way he was going into custody. The juvenile was released on bail with a surety of £750, he will be electronically tagged, must observe a curfew and is forbidden from being in a private vehicle unless accompanied by his mother. The judge said: “People’s lives are at stake here from young men with who do not have the experience or know how to handle vehicles.” He remanded the 19-year-old in custody for fear of further offences.