Northern Ireland

Mater Hospital worker fights off armed hijacking

Mater Hospital, Belfast
Image caption It happened during the early hours of Sunday morning

A hospital worker has been left "shocked" after fighting off a man armed with a knife who attempted to hijack her car following a shift at Belfast's Mater Hospital.

Police said the woman, believed to be a doctor, was not injured in the attack.

The woman, in her 20s, was picking up her car from Fleetwood Street at 00:15 GMT on Sunday when a man ran towards her.

He grabbed the handle of her car door and told her to get out of the vehicle.

Police said the woman "fought back against the assailant who then pulled a knife", described as being six-to-seven inches long.

'Frightening episode'

"He threatened her and caught her arm with the knife, ripping the sleeve of the jacket," police added.

She then ran back towards the hospital to raise the alarm.

Police say the man made his way up the Antrim Road towards Vicinage Park before he was picked up in a silver-coloured car.

The man is described as being 5ft 5ins in height, skinny and wearing dark-coloured clothes.

"This was a frightening episode for this woman to experience as she finished a hospital shift helping others and we are appealing to the public for help," said police.

'Horrified'

Aine Brennan, from the trade union Unison, said she was "horrified to hear of this attack".

"Any attack on a member of staff must be condemned," she told BBC News NI.

Ms Brennan added that, while the attack did not happen on hospital premises, "we would expect Belfast Trust will take a zero tolerance to this".

Image caption JJ Magee is a councillor in the Oldpark area of north Belfast

Sinn Féin councillor JJ Magee said he "absolutely furious" about the attack.

"This person attacked a hard-working Mater Hospital staff member after she had just done a long shift, working hard for the people in this community," he told BBC News NI.

"My thoughts go out to not just her, but to all the frontline staff who will no doubt be nervous now when they park their cars in this area."

The Belfast Trust confirmed the incident was now a police matter. No further details were available.

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