Hijacker jailed for five years for ‘mindless thuggery’

Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66
Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66

A hijacker who committed a ‘completely unprovoked mindless attack on a woman’ whilst armed with a knife has been jailed for five yeraas.

Joseph Patrick McMullan will serve half this sentence in custody and the remaining half on licence in the community.

The 29-years-old, from Kavanagh Court, pleaded guilty to hijacking, robbery and possessing an offensive weapon, namely a knife.

He also admitted driving whilst disqualified, dangerous driving and having no insurance.

The charges relate to an incident in the car park of the Springtown Shopping Centre on May 20, last year.

Derry Crown Court heard the injured party was sitting in her car waiting to collect her children when a man, later identified as McMullan, approached her car.

He got in, demanded the keys and tried to take them from the ignition.

However, the victim refused to give them to McMullan and began screaming and sounding the horn in an attempt to attract someone’s attention.

McMullan had a knife in his hand and was swiping it towards the woman, but cut himself in the process.

Again McMullan demanded the keys and said your insurance will cover it’.

The court heard the woman got out of the car, with the keys and her phone, and ran away from it. McMullan followed her and grabbed her, pulling her to the ground.

He grabbed the keys and her phone and ran back to the car.

The injured party followed and told McMullan if he gave her back her phone, he could take the car.

He did this, however, the woman kept her hand on the handbrake to prevent the defendant driving off.

McMullan was revving the car and a member of the public heard the woman screaming and intervened.

The man grabbed McMullan’s hoodie as he took off in the car, but had to let go.

The court heard a police helicopter tracked the car and it was observed in the Groarty Road area later that night.

A stinger was deployed which deflated the car tyres and it came to a halt.

McMullan then got out of the car and ran off into nearby fields, however he was pursued by police and arrested.

It was revealed the defendant had 130 previous convictions, including 77 for road traffic offences.

Passing sentence, Judge Philip Babington said: “This was a completely unprovoked mindless attack on a woman sitting in her own car in the car park of a well-known store in Derry.”

The judge described McMullan’s actions as ‘mindless thuggery’ and said it must have been ‘horrifying and frightening’ for the victim.

Jailing Kavanagh, the judge also disqualified him from driving for five years.