Pensioner badly shaken after Creggan hijacking

The van which was burned on Central Drive, Creggan. (0806MM01)
The van which was burned on Central Drive, Creggan. (0806MM01)

A Derry pensioner has been left badly shaken after his van was hijacked in the Creggan area of Derry.

Willie Hegarty, 76, was driving on Iniscarn Road at around 9:30pm last night when he and a female passenger were forced from the van by a gang of youths.

A short time later, the van was found blocking the road at Fanad Drive and had been set on fire.

Mr Hegarty told reporters: “I’m still shaking, it scared the life out of me.”

Police say fire crews who attempted to extinguish the burning van were forced to withdraw because of a hostile crowd.

The PSNI also said reports of a suspicious object in the area at around 10.30pm turned out to be a hoax which they believe was linked to the earlier hijacking.

PSNI Inspector Jon Burrows said: “This was clearly another attempt to lure Police into the area to cause disorder. This is part of the ongoing campaign to attack police and cause chaos on the streets.

“We worked extensively with community and political representatives last night to keep this area calm.

“It is an absolute disgrace that these mindless thugs continue to victimise local people, particularly the most vulnerable in our community. How can any right-thinking person pull a 76 yr-old man from his vehicle? I would appeal to anyone who witnessed this incident or has any information to contact us and help us identify those responsible.”

Derry’s deputy Mayor, Sinn Féin councillor Kevin Campbell condemned the incidents and urged anyone with information about them to contact police.

“I spoke to both victims and they are very badly shaken up. The owner of the van has just lost his livelihood in a matter of minutes.

“The people of the area are asking tonight, what has been achieved by this wanton act of destruction.

“I would urge anyone with information about this incident to bring it forward to the police straight away.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Police at Strand Road station on 0845 600 8000 or call Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555 111.