Northern Ireland

Matthew Gillard denies kidnapping partner in Belfast

A man accused of kidnapping his partner allegedly drove at a police officer who tried to save her, a court has heard.

Matthew Gillard, of Connsbrook Avenue in east Belfast, pleaded not guilty to charges including kidnapping and false imprisonment.

The defendant, 25, also denied charges of common assault, assaulting a police officer and driving dangerously.

The charges relate to incidents in east Belfast and Comber on Saturday 4 April.

Newtownards Magistrates Court heard that the defendant and the woman were in his car in east Belfast when he began questioning her about who she was seeing.

A detective giving evidence in court said the woman tried to get out of the Seat Toledo car but the defendant allegedly drove off at speed, through a red light on Bloomfield Avenue.

When the car stopped on the Belfast Road in Comber, the woman escaped along a lane but was carried back to the car by the defendant, the court heard.

An off-duty police sergeant saw this and went to help the woman.

When the sergeant tried to intervene, the defendant allegedly drove his car at the officer, forcing him to get out of the way.

The sergeant was able to pull the keys from the ignition through the car's open window, but the defendant wrenched them from his grasp.

He then drove to the Grand Parade area of east Belfast where the woman was released.

He is also alleged to have sent the woman a message threatening that if she went to police about the incident he would "ruin her life in every possible way".

The court heard that the defendant handed himself over to police on Wednesday, despite being aware since Saturday that he was wanted by the PSNI.

But during police interviews he refused to answer questions put to him.

An application for bail was made but this was refused.

Mr Gillard will appear again in court on 1 May.