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Car stolen from Belfast grammar school pursued by police at 114mph, court hears

By Alan Erwin

Published 18/05/2015

Primary school teacher wins her appeal against being convicted of a classroom assault on an eight-year-old pupil.
Primary school teacher wins her appeal against being convicted of a classroom assault on an eight-year-old pupil.

A car stolen from a south Belfast grammar school was pursued by police at speeds well in excess of 100mph, a court heard today.

Two brothers were allegedly in the Honda Civic as it wove through M1 motorway traffic on Saturday morning, a judge was told.

An investigating detective said: "The CCTV footage made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up."

Gerard O'Neill, 24, faces a total of 14 charges connected the incident, including counts of burglary, dangerous driving and failing to stop for police.

He is also accused of failing to remain at the scene of an accident, driving while disqualified, aggravated vehicle taking and assault.

His 26-year-old brother Stephen O'Neill is charged with two counts of aggravated vehicle taking.

The pair, both of Moyard Parade in Belfast, were arrested following a pursuit across parts of Co Down and into Belfast.

Police used a car and helicopter in the operation to bring the stolen Honda to a halt.

The vehicle was taken in a raid at Methodist College on the city's Malone Road last Thursday.

As the brothers appeared together in the dock at Belfast Magistrates' Court, Gerard O'Neill's lawyer confirmed he was not seeking bail.

The accused was remanded into custody until June 15.

Opposing Stephen O'Neill's bid to be released, the detective constable claimed the charges "totally belies the nature of these offences".

She said the Honda Civic was seen coming onto the M1 at around 9am on Saturday without any regard for other motorists.

The stolen car swerved across white lines, using the hard shoulder to overtake other traffic as police gave chase, the court heard.

"The speed on the CCTV footage, albeit relating to the police vehicle, was up to 114mph and the Honda Civic was viewed still pulling away from the police car," the detective disclosed.

It left the motorway at Stockman's Lane before colliding with two other cars.

Stephen O'Neill was allegedly seen getting out and running away.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told he was arrested after being found hiding under another car.

A defence lawyer stressed that Stephen O'Neill is not accused of driving the stolen vehicle.

Bail was granted based on his alleged role in the offences.

Judge Bagnall said: "It's an horrendous incident, however I recognise he's a passenger as opposed to the driver."

Imposing a curfew and ban on being in a private car, she warned the accused: "If there's one breach you're in custody. You will be watched like a hawk."

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