Woman fought to stop thief taking car, court is told
A female motorist has described how she stuck her thumb in a man's eye as he tried to steal her car in the centre of Belfast.
Her vehicle was targeted in Kent Street at around teatime on April 1 last year.
As the car thief tried to drive off in the Toyota MR2, the owner sat on the man's lap, punched him in the face and stuck her thumb in his eye.
The incident, which lasted 60 seconds, came to an end when the man crashed into a Stop sign and then fled the scene.
Standing trial at Belfast Crown Court on six charges arising from the incident is west Belfast man Gavin Gerard Francis Wilson.
The 24-year-old, from Lady Street, denies hijacking, aggravated vehicle taking causing injury, and driving while disqualified.
Giving evidence at Belfast Crown Court, the female owner said that during the incident she was dragged along with her legs hanging out of the car while trying to stop it from being stolen.
She added that since last April she is now more cautious when driving in Belfast.
She said: "I really don't like going into town in the car.
"If I do drive into town, I drive with the doors locked and the windows up. It's a psychological issue for me. It reminds me what happened."
She also told the jury that when she realised the man she saw at her car was about to "have a go", she "had a choice - do I let him drive off... or do I stop him?".
The motorist also revealed that after the man "squirmed" away from her during the struggle, and after the collision with the Stop sign, she considered giving chase, but decided against it as she was wearing heels.
She added: "I didn't want to see him get away. These people are a menace."
A prosecutor said it was the Crown's case that Wilson was linked to the incident through DNA evidence taken from the steering wheel.
Barrister David McClean said the motorist had parked her car at Kent Street and was standing outside her vehicle when a man got into the driver's seat.
The owner was able to yank open the driver's door and pulled herself onto the man's lap using the steering wheel for leverage.
She was also able to pull the keys out of the ignition - but as the car had a turbo timer the engine remained on for a full minute.
Despite a struggle taking place between the man and the motorist, the car was driven a short distance before colliding with a white van.
Following this collision, the Toyota then crashed into the Stop sign, after which the man fled on foot.