A man facing a litany of charges, including two of hijacking and kidnapping, following an alleged incident in County Armagh on Sunday has been refused bail.
Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting in Newry on Tuesday, heard how the incident is alleged to have occurred a few hours after the 44-year-old buried his father.
Leo Patrick Larkin, with an address in Wick Road, Bristol, is also accused of telling the alleged captive he was going to kill his own wife.
In total, the accused is charged with hijacking, two counts of threats to kill, aggravated vehicle taking and driving dangerously, resisting police, no licence, using a vehicle without insurance, and kidnapping.
Defence barrister Conor O’Kane informed the court that his client could not be produced as he was unwell but that a bail application would be made in his absence.
Outlining the details, a constable stated that on October 4, at 6.30pm, police received a report of the hijacking of a Citroen Berlingo van in the Ardress area, with the alleged injured party still in the vehicle.
Officers later stopped the vehicle and the alleged hijacker was identified as the defendant. According to the constable, Larkin refused to comply with police instructions and made off into a field.
An on-foot pursuit occurred with the defendant being struck once with a baton before CS spray was used in order for him to be detained.
The constable outlined how the alleged injured party had made both a verbal account of the incident on bodycam footage, as well as a written statement.
At 7.24pm, Larkin was arrested and a breath test was later conducted, which gave a reading of 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath.
The alleged injured party claimed that he had stopped his vehicle in Ardress after spotting some clothes on the road, which he thought could have been a person.
He stated that the defendant had approached his van on the driver side and he rolled down his window to speak with the man.
It is further alleged that Larkin then demanded that he give him a lift to Armagh, stating that he had a knife on him.
Court then heard that the alleged injured party claimed to have told the defendant that he was going in the opposite direction but offered to return and give him a lift.
Larkin is then alleged to have grabbed the keys from the ignition, before getting in the passenger side of the van, and once more demanded a lift.
During the drive, the alleged injured party claimed the pair had discussions regarding the recent burial of the defendant’s father.
He alleged that Larkin also made comments that he was going to kill his wife.
The constable stated that at one point, the allege injured party jumped out of the vehicle and ran to a nearby address, which, the court heard, was corroborated by another witness.
The constable outlined that Larkin had placed a £50 note on the dashboard of the van, but according to the alleged injured party, he later took this back.
He claimed that he was fearful for his own safety, for that of other road users, as well as the defendant’s wife.
It was outlined by the constable that bail was objected to due to fear of further offences, as she stated Larkin had 35 previous convictions in this jurisdiction, along with a record in England and Wales.
She also raised concerns of witness interference and whether the defendant would abide by any conditions, as he has 12 known aliases.
She added: “It is also believed that there is a risk of him absconding, as he has eight children and family across the water.”
Mr O’Kane asked for a short adjournment as he had not been provided with a copy of Larkin’s record in relation to convictions in England and Wales.
When he returned, the barrister stated: “I was taken aback by the record, but it is not as bad as it seems. These were all petty sessions type of offences and the last dates back to 2017.”
Mr O’Kane continued: “This is a bizarre case. This man had just buried his father. He had a row with his wife, during which she brought up the death of his mother. She then told him to get the f*** out of the car. He was distraught.
“The charges, which he faces appear to be in a different magnitude to his record, until you probe into the facts.”
The constable then outlined that upon speaking with those at the police station, during the short adjournment, it was established that Larkin was not unwell but instead being “incredibly aggressive” towards custody staff.
Mr O’Kane stated: “Pre-Covid, as your worship will know all too well, it will have taken around 10 or 11 months for a case to reach the point of a PE.
“If this man is refused bail, I will be coming back here, month in, month out, awaiting a full file. This man will spend at least 12 or 13 months in custody before this case will make it to an arraignment.”
District Judge Eamonn King refused bail on risk of further offences, interference with witnesses and absconding.
Larkin was remanded into custody and the case was adjourned until October 27 for an update.