Man in dock after sweetie van theft from courthouse
A CONFECTIONARY van was stolen from a courthouse car park and driven through barriers as its owner refilled a vending machine, a judge heard today.
Prosecutors said the thief swerved across two lanes of traffic in Lisburn, Co Antrim last month and headed off before police launched a pursuit.
A 33-year-old man accused of taking the vehicle was later found in a house sleeping and apparently heavily medicated.
Refusing John McDaniel's application for High Court bail, Mr Justice McCloskey described the alleged offences as "callous, ruthless and reckless".
McDaniel, of Flush Park in Lisburn, denies charges of aggravated vehicle taking causing damage, driving dangerous and while disqualified, and failing to stop, report or remain at the scene of an accident.
The Renault van was taken from Lisburn Magistrates' Court on January 22.
Crown lawyer David McClean said its driver had noticed a man beside him acting suspiciously as he restocked a vending machine inside the building.
He then spotted the same man in his van and heading for the security barriers, according to the prosecution.
Mr McClean contended: "He reversed and drove at speed through the security barriers, causing damage to the barrier and a post."
The van, which contained hundreds of pounds in money bags and multiple boxes of sweets, swerved out onto the Magheralave Road and continued on.
A police pursuit ended when the vehicle was tracked to another address in the town.
Officers allegedly discovered McDaniel lying in a bedroom, asleep and wearing similar clothes to those described by a witness to the incident.
A box of confectionery was found in a wardrobe, Mr McClean added.
He claimed McDaniel was slurring his words, unsteady on his feet and appeared to be under the influence of medication.
Defence counsel argued his client had been at a house party at the address where police located him.
"He woke up in the room and can't explain anything else in the room with him," the lawyer said.
Issues were also raised over the alleged similarity between McDaniel's clothes and those worn by the van thief.
But denying bail, the judge cited the risk of re-offending.
Mr Justice McCloskey added: "Those who engage in this kind of offending expose an incalculable number of innocent members of the public, pedestrians and drivers, to the risk of serious injury and death.
"The offenders do so in a callous, ruthless and reckless manner."