Belfast man jailed for attempted hijacking where female motorist kicked in stomach

A man was jailed today (Thursday) for a spate of car crimes including a violent attempted hijacking which saw a female motorist kicked in the stomach.

Declan Gerard McCoey - whose offending in December 2022 breached several court orders he was subject to - had a global sentence of four years and two months imposed.

From North Queen Street in Belfast, the 23-year-old was told by Belfast Crown Court Judge Gordon Kerr KC that the term imposed will be divided equally between custody and licence.

His offending occurred in the Botanic and Queen's University area of Belfast late on the evening of December 9, 2022 and into the early hours of December 10.

At around 11.30pm on December 9, a female motorist pulled into Camden Street in her Seat Ibiza.

She stopped her car to take a phonecall and as she sat stationary with friends also in the car, McCoey approached the vehicle. He opened the driver’s door, shouted ‘get the f*** out of the car’ and reached into the vehicle to try and take control of the steering wheel.

McCoey then tried to get into the car, the motorist kicked out then got out and tried to chase him away before getting back into the driver’s seat. At this point, McCoey approached the car for a second time, opened the driver’s door and kicked her in the stomach.

She got out of her vehicle again and the scuffle between McCoey and the female motorist continued on the street, during which she was punched twice. Her friends intervened which caused McCoey to flee the scene.

Judge Kerr said as a result of the attempted hijacking, the motorist was left “shaken, afraid and with a headache from where she has been punched”.

On nearby Fitzwilliam Street, McCoey then set fire to a parked Peugeot 208 which resulted in both the PSNI and Fire Service attending the scene at 11.45pm.

This vehicle was extensively damaged and McCoey also set fire to two other vehicles parked at Cameron Street - a Volkswagen Polo and a Volkswagen Up. Just after midnight on December 10, a male motorist was in his Seat Ibiza with his girlfriend on Cameron Street.

The motorist saw police blue lights, pulled in and his vehicle was then approached by McCoey who tried to open the passenger’s door. McCoey then produced a cannister and a lighter and made an attempt to ignite the contents of the cannister, which failed to catch.

The female passenger screamed, prompting the motorist to drive off. He approached the police and pointed out McCoey, who was chased and apprehended.

Following his arrest, McCoey was heavily intoxicated and observed to have a blue substance around his mouth. He was also aggressive towards officers who detained him.

During an interview with police, McCoey refused to answer questions put to him about his actions - and at the time was in breach of a number of suspended sentences.

McCoey subsequently pleaded guilty to five offences, namely attempting hijacking, attempted arson endangering life and three counts of arson. Defence submissions including a pre-sentence report compiled by the Probation Board indicated McCoey has both autism and ADHD and has abused both drink and drugs in the past.

McCoey also told Probation that whilst he has little recollection of the events, he expressed remorse for his offending and a wish to make efforts to improve his situation. Judge Kerr said that after taking all aspects into consideration, he was imposing a global sentence of four years and two months, which was divided equally between custody and licence.

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