Hijacker accused remanded in custody

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Witnesses were able to see an alleged armed robber had a ginger beard after his mask slipped off during a raid in County Antrim and later a man matching a similar description was spotted by police, a court has heard.

The details were given by a police officer as John Gerard Shields (41), of Firmount Drive, Antrim, appeared at Coleraine Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

Shields is charged with robbery of £1,500 from the shop, hijacking a car, two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and possession of cannabis.

The charges relate to incidents near Larne on Sunday July 23 after a man taking photographs in Glenarm had his Ford Fiesta stolen and a shop was later robbed in Ballygally.

The police officer told the court he believed he could connect the accused to the charges.

The officer told the court that at 10.30am on Sunday July 23 a man dressed in camouflaged clothing and wearing a mask over his face and armed with a sawn-off shotgun hijacked a vehicle at a Glenarm carpark and a short time later a man wearing similar clothing entered a Spar shop at Ballygally carrying a sawn-off shotgun.

He ordered customers to get on the floor and shouted to the shop owner to give him money but as he did so “the mask slipped down” and witnesses were able to see he had “piercing blue eyes and a ginger beard”.

The officer said the man made off with £1,500 in cash in the stolen Ford Fiesta.

The car was later found abandoned at Dickeystown Road near Glenarm and police then saw a Golf car being driven by a man with a ginger beard and saw a package being thrown from it.

A prosecutor said the accused made a ‘no comment’ police interview.

A defence solicitor said she was not applying for bail and Shields was remanded in custody to appear at Ballymena Magistrate’s Court via video link on August 24.