Belfast Telegraph

Alleged serial burglar drove stolen car directly at police, court hears

By Alan Erwin

An alleged serial burglar drove a stolen car directly at police trying to halt him after a month-long crime spree, the High Court heard today.

Caoimhin Gallagher, 25, narrowly missed the officers before crashing into another motorist in Derry, prosecutors claimed.

The pursuit followed a number of house raids in the city and in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.

In one he allegedly stole a Post Office card and withdrew cash from the account of a man who found him on the street and let him stay the night.

Details emerged as Gallagher was refused bail.

The accused, of no fixed address, is charged with two burglaries, four counts of aggravated vehicle taking, two assaults on police, fraud by false representation, receiving stolen goods, theft, attempted burglary, dangerous driving and driving while disqualified.

All of the alleged offences were committed between January and February this year.

Prosecution counsel Kate McKay detailed a series of break-ins where car keys, hand bags an iPhone and computer were stolen.

In one incident Gallagher was allegedly found cowering in a homeowner's shed and claiming to be homeless.

It was claimed that he also took £189 from the Post Office account of a man who felt sorry for him and let him sleep in his living room.

Mrs McKay told how a PSNI checkpoint was set up at the Caw Roundabout in the Waterside area of Derry on February 5 in a bid to halt a stolen Skoda Superb.

The car, allegedly driven by Gallagher, was pursued by police after travelling at high speeds through residential areas, ignoring red lights and forcing oncoming traffic to swerve out of its path, the court heard.

"Police and civilians saw the applicant make no attempt to slow down and drive at the officers," the prosecutor said.

"One of the officers described the force of the car passing him as he jumped out of the way."

Gallagher was originally accused of attempted murder over that incident, before the charges were reduced.

He was arrested after the Skoda crashed into another car, causing minor injuries to the driver.

According to Mrs McKay he claimed to have been trying to evade police because he was scared.

Defence counsel sought bail due to delays in the case reaching trial.

But denying the application, Madam Justice McBride cited the risk of re-offending.

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