Northern Ireland

Man remanded into custody after police car ‘rammed at least five times’ court hears

Appearing at Newry Crown Court by videolink from what appeared to be his home, 65-year-old Paul Downey entered not guilty pleas
Newry courthouse

A van driver rammed a police car “at least five times” in an effort to escape, a court heard on Monday.

Newry Magistrates Court also heard claims that a police officer who tried to take the keys from the Peugeot van “had to take evasive action” to avoid being run over as he walked across the front of the vehicle on Saturday night.

Appearing at court by videolink from police custody, John Joseph Ward (37) confirmed that " I do indeed” understand the four charges against him, all alleged to have been committed on February 3 this year.

Ward, from Springfarm Heights in Newry, Co Down, is charged with dangerous driving, driving while banned, driving without insurance and failing to stop for police.

A police officer gave evidence that she believed she could connect Ward to each of the charges and that police were objecting to bail.

She described that just after 11.20pm on Saturday evening, officer noticed Ward standing beside a white Peugeot van parked beside a shipping container in the Castlekeel estate and when they saw him getting into the driver’s seat, “officers initiated blue lights and pulled up to the rear of the van.”

The van tried to get away but when its path was blocked by a double post road sign, the van “repeatedly reversed, approximately five times, into the front of the police car,” the officer told the court.

One of the officers got out of the police vehicle to get to the van’s driver’s window but to do so he had to walk in front of the van and the court heard that according to the police case, the van lurched froward as he did so, forcing the officer ”to take evasive action” to avoid being struck.

The driver got out and tried to get away but he was “immediately detained” and although he failed a preliminary breathalyser at the scene, he was found to be below the alcohol drink drive limit when he was tested at the station later on.

Under cross examination from defence counsel Kevin O’Hare, the officer agreed that Ward had denied being the driver and also accepted there was no body worn footage but she told the barrister the officers saw Ward getting out of the driver’s seat, he was the only person in the van and he was “immediately detained” at the scene.

Ward was remanded into custody until February 28.