Hijacking victim a ‘resilient and very determined young lady’

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

A judge has said a hijacker was ‘very lucky’ that his victim was a ‘resilient, very determined young lady’.

Derry Crown Court heard the woman struggled with 29-years Joseph Patrick McMullan as he tried to get the keys to her car.

Judge Philip Babington said the defendant used ‘excessive force’ towards the woman and decribed the incident as ‘appalling.’

McMullan, of 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.

The 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 onto 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 to nearby fields, however he was pursued by police and arrested.

It was revealed the defendant was a disqualified driver and had 130 previous convcitions, including 74 for road traffic offences.

Defence counsel Sean Doherty said his client ‘deeply regrets his actions.’ He added McMullan was ‘disgusted and ashamed’ and wished to apologise to the injured party.

Sentencing was adjourned and the defendant was remanded in custody.