Northern Ireland news

Man jailed for two months after trying to gain access to motorist's car

Laganside Court in Belfast

A man who tried to get into a motorist's car amid alleged references to the IRA has been sentenced to two months custody.

Thomas Cawley (35) admitted a charge of interference with the vehicle during an encounter in Belfast earlier this year.

A further count of attempted hijacking was withdrawn.

The case related to an incident at the junction of Donegall Street and Carrick Hill in the early hours of April 23.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard a man got into the back of a Toyota Yaris while it was stopped at lights.

He allegedly asked to be taken to the Ormeau Road and claimed to be in the IRA.

Prosecutors said he got out after the man behind the wheel refused his request.

An attempt was then made to open the front door handle before the car left the scene.

Cawley, of no fixed abode, was identified as the man who had tried to gain access to the vehicle.

Defence barrister Kelly Doherty told the court her client accepted an "interaction" with the driver, but stressed the circumstances were far from those alleged.

"He doesn't accept that he made any reference to any organisation," she said.

Based on Cawley's criminal record, District Judge George Conner ruled that a custodial sentence was justified for the single offence.

Imposing a two-month term, Mr Conner acknowledged: "We are dealing with a wholly different matter than it started off."

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