Woman driver fought with her knife-wielding attacker

Court
Court

A woman fought with a knife-wielding hijacker in a failed bid to stop him taking her car, the High Court heard today.

She fled with the keys before he pulled her down and banged her head off the ground during the attack in Derry, prosecutors said.

A police helicopter was also deployed as the stolen vehicle was pursued across the city.

Details emerged as bail was refused to the 28-year-old man accused of carrying out the hijacking at a Dunnes Store car park on May 20.

Joseph McMullan, of no fixed address, also faces charges of aggravated vehicle taking, possessing an offensive weapon, driving while disqualified, dangerous driving and failing to stop for police.

Crown lawyer Natalie Pinkerton said the woman was targeted by a man who got into her car, brandishing a knife and demanding her keys.

She refused to hand them over, pushing the blade away as it swiped at her during a struggle, the court heard.

As the tussle continued the attacker cut himself and bled over the woman.

According to the prosecution she then fled from the vehicle with her keys, running for nearby buildings with the man chasing behind.

It was claimed that he grabbed her by the hair, dragged her down and banged her head off the ground before taking the keys.

Ms Pinkerton said the woman followed him back to her car and seized hold of the hand brake in an attempt to stop it being driven off.

But eventually she had to jump from the car as it left the scene.

The hijacker failed to stop for police at locations in the city, before finally coming to a halt when the PSNI helicopter was in pursuit.

The driver got out and fled into fields with officers giving chase.

McMullan was subsequently arrested, allegedly wearing similar clothing to that described by the victim.

During interviews he claimed to have taken drugs and could remember nothing for the past two to three weeks.

McMullan accepts being in the stolen car but denies any involvement in the hijacking, the court heard.

Defence counsel Sean Doherty argued that there was a four-hour gap between the vehicle being seized and helicopter pursuit.

“There doesn’t seem to be very much connecting him to the original, more serious aspect of the case,” Mr Doherty added.

The judge, Mr Justice Colton, acknowledged that an identification procedure and any forensic evidence could be significant.

But denying bail, he cited the need to protect the public from any potential re-offending.