Northern Ireland news

Court hears man accused of kidnapping children in car has had prison licence revoked

A court has heard that a man accused of stealing a car with two young children inside has had his prison licence revoked

A man accused of kidnapping two young children by stealing a car in south Belfast has had his prison licence revoked, a court has heard.

Martin John McDonagh allegedly got into the Volkswagen Golf at Boucher Crescent and drove off two weeks after he was released from custody for undisclosed matters.

The 35-year-old was detained following an intervention by members of the public who managed to stop the vehicle on Saturday.

A boy and girl in the car at the time were unharmed.

McDonagh, of Ardmoulin Terrace in the Divis area of the city, was set to mount a bid to be released on bail at the High Court yesterday.

But prosecution counsel David McClean argued that a new development rendered the application pointless.

He said: "My instructions are that the prison has revoked his licence... it was done yesterday."

With defence lawyers unaware of the new situation, Madam Justice McBride adjourned the case for a week to obtain confirmation.

McDonagh is charged with aggravated vehicle taking causing injury, kidnapping and common assault.

He also faces counts of driving when unfit through drink or drugs, having no licence or insurance, and failing to provide a breath specimen.

At an earlier hearing it was claimed that he got into the car by mistake, thinking it belonged to a sister he feared was under the influence of alcohol.

Police said he is suspected of having taken drugs before the alleged kidnapping.

The accused claimed he had no memory of anyone pulling at the door of the car, screaming at him or being dragged along, a previous court heard.

A defence solicitor argued that McDonagh had taken too much of a prescribed medication on the day and went to the Boucher area after another relative raised concerns about his sister.

It was contended that the accused believed it was her Volkswagen Golf he was getting into.

McDonagh, described as having an IQ of around 45, stopped immediately when he realised there were children in the car, according to his defence.

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