Northern Ireland news

Police among injured after stolen milk truck rampage in west Belfast, court told

Police at the scene in Cavendish Street where a stolen milk lorry was involved in a number of crashes around west Belfast area Picture Mal McCann.

FOUR people, including two police officers, were injured as a stolen milk truck collided with six vehicles in west Belfast, a court has heard.

One woman was knocked unconscious when the lorry struck her car while being driven the wrong way up a one-way street, it was claimed.

Details emerged as a 23-year-old man appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court on 40 charges related to the weekend theft.

Darren McGrath, of no fixed abode, is accused of 38 motoring offences, including aggravated vehicle taking causing injury, aggravated vehicle taking causing damage to a number of vehicles and driving while unfit through drink or drugs at Cavendish Street.

Damage caused in the Clonard area when a stolen milk lorry was involved in a number of crashes Picture Mal McCann.

He faces further counts of resisting police and possessing Class C drugs.

McGrath denies being behind the wheel of the milk truck, which was stolen in the Castle Street area on Saturday morning.

But opposing bail, a PSNI officer claimed he was seen driving the lorry "dangerously and recklessly" across residential parts of the city.

The court heard that pedestrians and other road users were put at risk before it finally came to a halt.

"It damaged six vehicles, causing injury to four people," she said.

"One female was knocked unconscious from the direct impact on the driver's side of her vehicle when the milk van was driven the wrong way up a one-way street."

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told that another of the injured, a male civilian, had to be taken to hospital with muscle spasms.

Two PSNI officers were also said to be hurt when the lorry collided with their car, shunting it forward.

The stolen milk lorry collided with six vehicles, Belfast Magistrates Court was told. Picture by Mal McCann

"Police were not in pursuit, but they were following and trying to get the vehicle to stop," the officer added.

She claimed McGrath appeared under the influence when he was arrested, with a quantity of drugs found on him.

A defence solicitor stressed that two people had been in the truck.

He argued that police could not say if McGrath was the driver, adding that his client's shoe was found in the passenger side of the cab.

According to the PSNI officer, however, a number of officers identified the defendant as the alleged driver.

She added that the passenger had jumped out of the lorry before most of the collisions occurred.

Refusing bail, Judge Bagnall said: "I'm concerned about the risk to the public."

She remanded McGrath in custody to appear again by video-link in four weeks' time.

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