Belfast Telegraph

Grandmother (71) foiled hijack duo who tried to steal her car, court told

By George Jackson

A 71-year-old grandmother fought off two would-be hijackers as they tried to take her vehicle in a church car park, a court has heard.

Margaret West struggled with two men who tried to get into the passenger's side and driver's side.

She took the car keys from the ignition and put them into her pocket before the two men ran off, a district judge was told.

The disclosure was made by a detective constable as two Londonderry men appeared in court.

Both defendants face 18 offences linked to public order and road traffic incidents in the Christ Church, Park Avenue, De Burgh Terrace and Groarty Road areas of Derry on Sunday morning.

The defendants are Ryan McGlinchey, a painter from Benview estate in Coshquin, and Vincent Gill, a student from Sackville Court.

Gill, who has 22 previous convictions and McGlinchey, who has nine, were charged with assaulting Ms West, attempting to hijack her car and trying to rob her.

They were also charged with assaulting 63-year-old Thomas Agnew outside his house and hijacking his Peugeot van.

They pair were also accused of an arson attack on the van, which was found on fire at Groarty Road, dangerous driving, driving without insurance and without a licence, driving while unfit due to alcohol or drugs and with failing to report, stop and remain at the scene of a road traffic accident.

A detective constable told District Judge Barney McElholm that the police received a phone call from Ms West at 10.17am on Sunday to say that two men had tried to hijack her car.

"She refused to give them the keys and she took the keys out of the ignition and put them into her pocket," the officer said.

The witness said the PSNI then received a call from Mr Agnew to report that he had been assaulted outside his De Burgh Terrace home by two men who then hijacked his van.

He said Mr Agnew sustained a fracture to the left side of his face.

The officer said Mr Agnew gave similar descriptions of his attackers to those given by Ms West.

The officer said a member of the public then contacted the police to report that he had spotted a Peugeot van doing "doughnuts" – spinning a car around to leave a circle of skidmarks – in nearby Park Avenue.

Another caller stated his cafe had been struck by the vehicle in the same area.

The officer said the burning van was found at 10.38am at Groarty Road.

Both defendants, who matched the descriptions given by Mr Agnew and Ms West, were seen in the area.

The pair ran off across fields before they were caught by police, who used CS spray to restrain them.

The officer told the court that CCTV footage from Northland Road and Crawford Square showed two men who were wearing similar clothing to that worn by the defendants at the time of their arrest.

He said Gill told the police he "was out for a stroll" at Groarty Road, while McGlinchey said he ran off because "he was high on drugs from a party on Saturday night".

Both defendants deny the charges.

They claim that they are not the men filmed by the CCTV cameras.

They were remanded in custody until March 27.

Belfast Telegraph

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