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Details of attack on doctor outside Daisy Hill Hospital heard as attempted hijacking accused refused bail

Hospital Road, Newry

A Newry man who is accused of assaulting a female doctor and attempting to hijack her car at Daisy Hill Hospital has been remanded in custody after bail was refused.

Whilst noting the other alleged assailant played a “more significant role”, the district judge commented the 30-year-old’s record showed a “propensity for violence”.

Bernard Francis Ward, of The Demesne, appeared charged with attempted hijacking and common assault at the city’s Magistrates’ on Tuesday.

Appearing by way of videolink from police custody, the defendant confirmed that he understood the charges and was connected to the same by a constable.

Defence solicitor John Rocks made no question to the connection and informed the court that a bail application was being made on behalf of his client.

Outlining the background to the charges, the constable stated that on January 31, at 8.30pm, police were tasked to a report of an attempted hijacking and assault in the car park of Daisy Hill Hospital.

CCTV showed two males wandering around the car park at the hospital before loitering at the outpatient and main doors to the hospital.

Shortly before 8.30pm, the alleged victim, a doctor at the hospital, pulled into the car park in her silver Audi TT.

As she exited her vehicle, one of the males approached her and placed on a pair gloves before shouting at the doctor: “Nice car”.

The male then punched the injured party twice to the face before forcing her to the ground as a struggle ensued.

Unable to get the keys off the doctor the male shouted asking for help from the second assailant, identified by police as Ward.

Both men then continued to struggle with the doctor in an attempt to get her cars keys from her.

The constable informed court that the doctor was left with an injury to her wrist, bruising to her back and received several punches to the head.

Ward was noted in the area by police 20 minutes after the incident but later disappeared.

The defendant was arrested at his home address and during interview he accepted being the male in CCTV but denied being aware that a hijacking had taken place.

Prosecution highlighted that during the interview Ward placed the blame on the other male.

Outlining objections, the constable stated police were concerned that there was a risk of further offences with this defendant having 20 previous convictions on his record, including two for burglary and six for assault.

She informed the court that the most recent burglary dated back to 2012, in which a 90-year-old lady was dragged from her bed in a fold and held to the ground in order to steal a handbag.

The constable stated police also had concerns given the “public revulsion” given the attack was committed against a member of the health service.

Prosecution added that there was believed to be a risk of Ward interfering with witnesses given that he knew the alleged injured party’s car and her place of work.

Defence solicitor John Rocks put it to the officer that the CCTV footage showed the other male to be the “main perpetrator in the first instance”.

He added that his client was out of shot in the CCTV when the incident first began and had helped police in their inquiries as to the identity of the other male.

The constable accepted that the second male had now been identified and was currently being questioned by police.

Mr Rocks stated: “It has to be conceded that this is an unsavoury incident and Mr George (prosecution solicitor) rightly points to the media backlash.

“Mr Ward does have an unpleasant record….as has been heard the last entry goes back to 2012 and a significant period of time has passed….he has remained out of trouble and not come to the attention of police.”

The solicitor submitted that stringent conditions could alleviate any fears which the court and police had with regards his client’s release.

Deputy District Judge Laura Ivers stated: “This is a very serious incident, this was a female doctor going to Daisy Hill Hospital reporting for duty….the evidence is that this defendant and another male were wandering about the cars park.

“The doctor was punched to the face, forced to the ground and there was a struggle….this defendant involved himself in the hijacking by trying to get the keys.”

Whilst noting the other male played a “more significant role”, the district judge commented Ward’s record showed a “propensity for violence”.

She added there were also concerns that the defendant would not abide by conditions and would interfere with witnesses.

Bail was refused and Ward was remanded in custody to appear by way of videolink on March 2.

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