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Belfast man accused of kidnapping his girlfriend 'drove car at off-duty police officer'

By Paul Higgins

Published 10/04/2015

Matthew Gillard
Matthew Gillard

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

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

Giving evidence to the court, Detective Constable Keown said he believed he could connect Gillard to each of the charges and that police were objecting to 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".

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

"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," the officer claimed.

When the car reached the Belfast Road in Comber, it is claimed 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". In an effort to escape, the victim bit him twice on the arm. When he is alleged to have let go, the victim fled but Gillard is accused of driving after her, blocking her path.

DC Keown described how an off-duty police sergeant saw Gillard carry his alleged victim over his shoulder and "trailed her back to the car". When the sergeant stood at the front of the car to stop it being driven off, Gillard allegedly drove it at the officer, forcing him out of the way.

As the woman pleaded for help, the officer ran alongside the car and managed to get the keys from the ignition through the open driver's window.

A struggle ensued between the off duty officer and Gillard but, it is claimed, he wrenched the keys from his grasp and sped off with the woman still in the car.

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

He is further alleged to have taunted police with a message saying "catch me if you can" before sending the victim a message threatening that if she went to police he would "ruin her life".

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

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

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