Car hijack youths drove off with girl aged nine on board
A nine-year-old girl was left shaken after a car hijacking by a gang of youths in south Belfast.
She was waiting for a pizza with her brother when three teenagers forced the driver’s door open and hauled him from the car.
The trio reversed into a wall before driving off with the child still on board.
The girl escaped injury when she was forced from the car minutes later, but her 25-year-old brother, who was punched in the face, suffered bruising.
The incident happened at around 5.30pm on Wednesday as the pair were parked in an alleyway behind Domino’s Pizza on the Lisburn Road.
Witness Betty McDonagh said she heard “a lot of commotion” during the hijacking and saw a bald man of average build and height running towards the stolen car.
She said: “I was with a customer when I heard these really loud screeching brakes which made me look out the window.
“I saw a car reversing into the bins and then a balding guy ran towards it and it drove off.
“It really smashed into the bins and then it was away, it all happened very quickly.
“There were three or four Domino’s Pizza guys outside when it happened, they would have seen everything.”
Ms McDonagh, who owns a beauty salon beside the alleyway, said she did not know there was a child in the car. “It’s a horrible thing to happen this close to Christmas,” she added.
Police said the men drove the vehicle, a silver Volkswagen, towards Shaftesbury Square with no lights on.
It was later found burnt-out at Albert Street in west Belfast.
The attackers are described as being in their late teens, wearing hooded tops with scarves covering their faces.
SDLP MLA Conall McDevitt condemned the attack, saying it had left the community appalled.
He added: “This was a horrific attack on an innocent child and her brother in the heart of our community. We must now ensure that the victims of this heinous crime are given all the support they require to get over this traumatic experience.”