Man with 147 previous convictions remanded in custody

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

A man who tried to escape from custody while in the hospital and ‘attacked’ prison officers, has been refused bail.

John Paul Harkin, of Milldale Crescent, is charged with grievous bodily harm with intent, possessing an oxygen tank and a crutch as offensive weapons, and attempted escape from lawful custody.

He is further charged with making a threat to kill, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and disorderly behaviour in the hospital on February 13.

The 36-year-old is also charged with hijacking, two robberies in Muff and Quigley’s Point, and handing property stolen in the Republic of Ireland.

These offences relate to two separate alleged incidents between December 2013 and August last year.

Derry Magistrate’s Court heard allegations that Harkin hijacked a pizza delivery man in November 2013. He is believed to have crossed the border and committed further offences which are being investigated by Gardai.

He was released on bail in relation to this offence and it is alleged he was involved in the theft of another car from the Great James Street area of Derry in August last year.

The court heard claims Harkin crossed the border once again and committed robberies at two service stations in Muff and Quigley’s Point.

It is further alleged that following an appearance in court earlier this year, he attempted to escape from custody after he was taken to hospital.

Harkin allegedly used a ‘number of items’ to ‘attack’ the prison officers and there was a ‘stand off’ when police arrived.

An investigating officer told the court police objected to bail for fear of further offences.

She said Harkin has 147 previous convictions and had a history of breaching bail.

The officer also told the court police feared the 36-year-old would interfere with witnesses or leave the jurisdiction before trial.

Defence solicitor Seamus Quigley said if his client was released from custody he would be subject to licence conditions and would be living at a probation hostel.

District Judge Barney McElholm refused bail stating he was an ‘unsuitable candidate’. He said Harkin was a ‘recidivist and inveterate offender’ and there was a clear risk of further offences and witness intimidation.

The 36-year-old was remanded in custody until September 10.