Hijacking accused is refused bail by judge

Editorial image.
Editorial image.

A man accused of a hijacking in the city last weekend has been refused bail.

Niall Barnes, of Fincairn Road, Drumahoe, is charged with hijacking a VW Golf car from three teenagers on April 6.

The charge relates to an alleged incident in the Strand Road area of the city.

Derry Magistrates Court heard that two other men arrested in connection with the alleged hijacking have been released on bail pending further enquiries. Another unknown male, who was allegedly armed with a knife and a gun, has not been identified and remains at large.

The court heard allegations that the VW Golf was parked in the car park of a toy shop on the Strand Road. A Seat Ibiza allegedly drove up behind it and two makes got out, one of whom the police claim was Barnes.

The unidentified man got out of the car and approached the VW Golf with a knife. He allegedly told him to get out of the car and then dragged him out and held a knife to a throat.

Barnes is alleged to have told two other teenage passengers to get out of the car, before both men got into it and drove off at speed.

Police received a number of reports of the car driving erratically and at speed throughout the city.

It was revealed the stolen car has since been recovered, however it was not disclosed where.

During interview, the 27-year-old claimed he got a lift from his cousin in the Shipquay Street area after a night out. He told police the other man, who was unknown to him, also got into the car and asked to be taken to the Skeoge area.

When they arrived there, Barnes claimed the man told them to wait until he got something and he came back to the car and asked to be taken to the car park.

The 27-year-old accepted he was there and that a hijacking took place but denied telling the passengers of the VW Golf to get out.

He also denied seeing the unidenitified man with either a knife or a gun.

Police objected to bail for fears Barnes would interfere with the on going investigation.

Defence solicitor Keith Kyle told the court his client has no previous convictions. He said the 27-year-old is due to be best man at his brother’s wedding this Saturday and there was a bail address available in Drumahoe.

Refusing bail, District Judge Barney McElholm said there is a ‘very, very real risk of interference with the investigation’ and added that he ‘did not believe a word of this ‘fairy tale’ told by Barnes.

He said it was not in the public interest to grant bail as this case involves ‘three young people sitting in a car, totally lawfully, and it is hijacked and driven dangerously throughout the city’.

Barnes was remanded in custody and will appear in court again via videolink on May 1.