Northern Ireland

Man in court charged with robbing taxi driver in north Belfast

Laganside courthouse in Belfast
Laganside courthouse in Belfast

A MAN was remanded into custody on Tuesday charged with robbing a taxi driver in north Belfast.

Daniel Simpson (29) is accused of seizing the victim's mobile phone following an attempted debit card payment scam.

Simpson, with an address on the city's Cliftonville Road, was arrested by police investigating the incident early on Sunday morning.

He appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court to face charges of robbery, fraud by false representation and making off without paying for the £11 cab fare.

A detective said the driver picked up three men in the Ligoniel Road area and took them to a convenience store on the Crumlin Road.

Inside the shop they allegedly tried to pay for goods using three different bank cards which belonged to another man.

Due to his suspicions the driver requested an up front payment for the fare when they got back into the taxi.

But after the bank cards were declined the front seat passenger grabbed the victim and attempted to steal money from him, the court heard.

The detective claimed Simpson got out of the back seat, reached in through the driver's window and stole his mobile phone valued at £500.

All of the passengers fled, leaving behind the three bank cards.

During police interviews Simpson made partial admissions but denied that his actions amounted to robbery.

He stated that he asked no questions about the cards, but claimed to be unaware who they belonged to.

Seeking bail for his client, defence counsel Luke Curran questioned the making off without payment charge.

"The taxi driver asked the males to leave and said he was waiving payment," he submitted.

Mr Curran told the court Simpson lives with and cares for his elderly grandmother and grandfather.

"He's worried about his grandparents and how they will (cope), given they are used to his assistance", the barrister added.

Bail was refused due to the risk of further offences.

Remanding Simpson in custody until March 14, Deputy District Judge Gerard Trainor said: "He seeks to diminish his role, nevertheless the admissions include that of theft."