Belfast Telegraph

Probation for man who stole black taxi and brandished knife at Belfast hospital

By Alan Erwin

A man who stole a black taxi and turned up a hospital with a knife in separate incidents more than a decade ago has been given six months probation.

James McGivern, 33, was also handed a one-year driving ban after a judge was told the vehicle's owner had to leap out of the way to avoid being struck.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard the victim parked outside his home in the north of the city back in December 2007, leaving the engine running, while he ran in to collect his taxi badge.

A prosecution lawyer said he emerged to be informed by a neighbour that the cab had been stolen.

When the vehicle was spotted travelling on Spamount Street he ran to the top of the New Lodge and shouted at the occupants.

"The driver accelerated towards him, (forcing) him to jump out of the way to avoid being hit," the Crown lawyer said.

Later, the taxi was abandoned and a number of suspects observed heading towards Alliance Avenue.

McGivern, of Burnaby Park in the city, was arrested after being spotted crouching down close to an area of waste ground.

In a separate incident the same month police were called to Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital after security staff detained a man in the car park.

According to the prosecution McGiven had been discovered in possession of a Stanley knife.

Asked to account for it, he allegedly stated that he was going to kill himself.

McGivern appeared in court to be sentenced for taking a motor vehicle without authority, dangerous driving, having no insurance or licence, and possessing an offensive weapon in public.

Defence counsel Amy Campbell said he had been struggling with mental health issues, leading to a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.

Asked by Deputy District Judge Anne Marshall where her client has been for the last ten years, Ms Campbell replied: "He just hasn't come to the attention of police."

She also stressed that McGivern, a father of three, has kept out of trouble over the past decade.

Based on his clear record over that period, Judge Marshall decided to impose six months probation, along with the one-year disqualification and fines totaling £200.

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