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On the run prisoner to be sentenced for robbing and assaulting woman in the Waterside area of Derry
29 Nov 2018
A prisoner who went on the run last month after he'd been granted compassionate bail to visit his ill grandmother is to be sentenced in his absence. James Donegan, 30, from Ferndale Drive in the city had been in custody in in Maghaberry Prison since November of last year awaiting sentencing for attempting to hijack a woman's car, stealing her handbag and assaulting her. James Donegan, 30, from Ferndale Drive in the city had been in custody in in Maghaberry Prison since November of last year awaiting sentencing for attempting to hijack a woman's car, stealing her handbag and assaulting her. Donegan, who has 83 previous criminal convictions, is believed to be living in a border village in Co. Donegal close to Derry since he absconded last month. Last week his mother, Theresa Donegan, from Summerhill Park in Prehen, lost half of the £500 surety she'd lodged with the court to enable her son to be granted compassionate bail. She was to have accompanied him during his three hours of compassionate bail from Maghaberry Prison and she withdrew the £500 surety from her Credit Union Christmas savings account. A prosecution barrister told Judge Philip Babington that Donegan had committed the three offences against the woman in the early hours of May 27 of last year. The woman had parked her car in an off-street car park at Spencer Road opposite the Iona Bar. She saw three men, one of them being Donegan, who was laying on the ground in front of another parked car. Donegan approached her car, which had the driver's window slightly down, and demanded to use her mobile phone. He banged on her car window and put pressure on it. Donegan then tried to open the driver's door but the woman had locked her car. The defendant then reached in the window and grabbed her by the shoulder and grappled with her in an attempt to pull the keys from the ignition and shouted at the woman that he had a knife. He also stole her handbag. The woman then ran from her car onto Spencer Road where she was chased by Donegan. A passing taxi driver stopped, and the woman got into his car, and a passenger in the taxi then phoned the police. The court heard that in August 2017, the woman picked Donegan during a police identification procedure after the police had viewed CCTV footage of the incident. The prosecution barrister said it was a physical assault on a vulnerable woman, during which Donegan told her he had a knife and during which he'd run after her. Defence barrister Sean Doherty said Donegan was heavily intoxicated at the time, so much so that he had collapsed drunk on the road. He said the crimes which Donegan had admitted were neither pre-planned nor sophisticated. Mr. Doherty said while it was a frightening experience for the woman, no excessive force was used nor was there a knife. Judge Babington said he would sentence Donegan in his absence on December 4.
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