Thieves break man’s jaw in van hijacking

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Car thieves who fractured a man’s jaw while hijacking his van in Derry have been described as “thugs”.

Tom Agnew (63) was forced out of his vehicle by two men at De Burgh terrace at around 10am on Sunday morning.

“Before I got a chance to turn the key in the ignition, I was aware of one person at my passenger side,” he said.

“I had a second person at the driver’s door.

“I got out of the car and he took a couple of paces back. I said, “What’s going on lads?” and, with that, he launched his clenched fist in my face.

“Almost immediately my nose was bleeding heavily. I staggered backwards, I knew I had taken one hell of a blow.”

The van was later involved in a collision on the Groarty Road a short time later and set on fire. Two men, both aged 20, have been arrested.

Mr Agnew was back in Altnagelvin Hospital yesterday for surgery on his fractured cheekbone.

SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack said it was difficult to understand the mindset of his attackers.

“These thugs, who stole the victim’s van, drove it recklessly through a built up residential area and then set it on fire, have no thought or feeling for others or the lasting negative impact that their actions have caused.’

“Whatever warped mind gets pleasure from placing a man in hospital and destroying his means of livelihood is seriously concerning. My sympathy is with this man and his family, as no doubt he will continue to relive this trauma for a long time to come.”

The latest incident is the second hijacking in Derry in less than a week.

Former Mayor of Derry, Sinn Fein councillor Kevin Campbell urged anyone with information to contact the PSNI.

“These must have been very frightening experiences for the owners of these vehicles. It is the last thing anyone would expect happening to them . My thoughts are with the victims of these crimes and I wish them a speedy recovery

“These crimes happen very quickly and are over in a matter of seconds. We have seen a spate of these types of incidents in Derry and Belfast in recent times and it is something that no one wants to see happen here.

“I would urge anyone with information on these incidents no matter how small to bring it forward to the police.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the PSNI on 08456008000 or Crimestoppers on 0800555111.