Man accused of stealing van from outside courthouse denied bail

The confectionery van was taken from a car park at Lisburn court
The confectionery van was taken from a car park at Lisburn court

A Lisburn man accused of stealing a confectionary van from outside the city’s courthouse as its owner refilled a vending machine has been denied High Court bail.

John McDaniel (33), from Flush Park in the city, denies charges of aggravated vehicle taking causing damage, driving dangerously and while disqualified, and failing to stop, report or remain at the scene of an accident on January 22.

Crown lawyer David McClean said the driver of the Renault van had noticed a man beside him acting suspiciously as he restocked a vending machine inside the courthouse.

He then spotted the same man driving off in his van and heading for the security barriers, according to the prosecution.

Mr McClean contended: “He reversed and drove at speed through the security barriers, causing damage to the barrier and a post.”

The van, which contained hundreds of pounds in money bags and multiple boxes of sweets, swerved out onto the Magheralave Road and continued on.

A police pursuit ended when the vehicle was tracked to another address in the city.

Officers allegedly discovered McDaniel lying in a bedroom, asleep and wearing similar clothes to those described by a witness to the incident.

A box of confectionary was found in a wardrobe, Mr McClean added.

He claimed McDaniel was slurring his words, unsteady on his feet and appeared to be under the influence of medication.

Defence counsel argued his client had been at a house party at the address where police located him.

“He woke up in the room and can’t explain anything else in the room with him,” the lawyer said.

Issues were also raised over the alleged similarity between McDaniel’s clothes and those worn by the van thief.

Refusing McDaniel’s application for High Court bail, Mr Justice McCloskey cited the risk of re-offending and described the alleged offences as “callous, ruthless and reckless”.