22 May 2022

Special sitting of Derry Magistrates Court held outside this morning over fears that one of the defendants has coronavirus

Prisoner brought to court by police wearing hazard suits and face masks

Derry courthouse

Derry courthouse at Bishop Street.

A special sitting of Derry Magistrates Court was held in the yard of the local courthouse today as a man suspected of having the Coronavirus appeared. 

Three men and a woman were to have appeared at the court charged in connection with a hijacking in the Lettershandoney Road area of the city. 

However, due to the fear of the virus it was decided that all four would have their charges read to them in the vehicles used to bring them to court.

As a result, the judge and court officials went to the courtyard to do that. 

Police officers in white hazard suits with face masks, goggles and gloves attended to the suspected case. 

Paul Carr, 28, of Coleraine Road in Portstewart, was charged with hijacking, aggravated vehicle taking, burglary, possessing a blade and  possessing drugs on March 11 and 12.

Angelo Doherty, 35, of Eglinton Street in Portrush, was charged with entering a premises as a trespasser on March 12, hijacking, aggravated vehicle taking and assault. 

Hugh Gérard McConnell, 44, of Coleraine Road in Portstewart, was charged with hijacking, aggravated vehicle taking, driving while disqualified and the theft of a vehicle tracking device on March 11.

Nakela Bridget Grant, 32, of Clon Elagh in Derry, is charged with hijacking, allowing herself to be carried and aggravated vehicle taking on March 11.

A police officer connected the four to the charges and opposed bail for Carr and Doherty. 

Gareth McFadden, solicitor for O'Connell, said there would be no bail application and he was remanded in custody until March 19.

Grace Nicholl, counsel for Grant, also said there would be no bail application for her and she was remanded in custody until March 23. 

A police officer told the court that the initial incident occurred when late on the night of March 11 a 17-year-old youth was driving home on the Tirbracken Road and saw a broken down vehicle. 

The officer said that 'being a Good Samaritan' the youth stopped knowing as he did a little bit about mechanics and offered to help. 

He realised the broken down car was not capable of being fixed and so the youth offered to get his father to tow the car. 

As he got into his own vehicle and put the key into the ignition. the officer said he was pulled from his vehicle, assaulted and the vehicle taken by four males and a female. 

Later police received a call about a car burnt out close to Limavady. 

Later the owner of a caravan park on Castlerock noticed a broken window in one of the caravans and the officer said he found Doherty and Carr inside. 

They ran off but were detained nearby. 

The officer said that Doherty was a 'prolific offender' with 40 previous convictions and opposed bail. 

Defence solicitor for Doherty, Derwin Harvey, said it was a case that came down to identification and stated that his client was willing to go for identification. 

He added that it was circumstantial case at best. 

The officer said that the broken down vehicle belonged to Doherty and she believed no one else was driving. 

As regards Carr, the officer said that he had ben involved in the hijacking but claimed it was due to his fear from some of his co-ax used. 

She said that he denied being involved in the assault but said it had happened. 

The officer said that Carr had 11 previous convictions. 

Defence solicitor, Keith Kyle, said his client was putting forward a defence and could be granted bail as he had an address. 

Deputy District Judge Michael Ranaghan said that in the circumstances he was refusing bail and Carr and Doherty were remanded in custody until March 26.

The court was told that due to the fear of the virus the prisoners would not be going to prison to be held but where they would go had to be decided. 

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