Northern Ireland

Belfast man in court over Shankill car hijacking

A screwdriver was put to a taxi driver's neck during an attempted hijacking in Belfast, the High Court has heard.

Daniel Coulter, of Malvern Way, Belfast, is accused of being one of three men who took part in the attack on 12 January.

The 19-year-old was arrested last week by a PSNI task force investigating a spate of car hijackings in Belfast.

He faces charges of attempted hijacking, assault and criminal damage.

Mr Coulter is also accused of possession of an offensive weapon and theft.

The details were revealed at the High Court during a bail application by the accused.

He is the only one of the three suspects arrested so far.

The court heard the taxi driver was beaten around the head during the early morning struggle.

It happened as he dropped the pre-paid fare he had picked up in Craigavon off at Hopewell Place in the Shankill.

David McClean, prosecuting, said the taxi driver was ordered out of the car after a screwdriver was put to his neck. The victim suffered superficial injuries, including a cut to his neck.

It was alleged that Mr Coulter, a back-seat passenger, ran round and took the keys from the ignition during the incident.

Neither the screwdriver nor the stolen items have been recovered.

Mr Coulter admitted to police he was in the taxi but claimed to have got out before the attack was carried out, the court heard.

An identification procedure is due to take place next month, Mr McClean said.

Forensic tests are also being carried out on blood found on a console and door handle of the taxi.

Bail was opposed due to fears of any interference with the investigation.

Defence barrister Richard McConkey stressed that Mr Coulter has never been in trouble before.

He added that his client has significant health problems and could spend months in custody before any trial date is fixed.

Mr Justice McCloskey ruled that the application should be adjourned "to allow the dust to settle" and the identification procedure to be carried out.

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