North Belfast kidnap bid accused must remain in custody, rules judge

A man accused of trying to bundle a woman into the boot of a car must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled on Monday.

Jonathan Beggs was refused bail amid allegations that he took part in an attack on a North Belfast street. The 30-year-old, of Cultra Street in the city, denies charges of attempted kidnapping and common assault.

Crown lawyer Adrian Higgins claimed the woman was targeted while she walked on Skegoneill Avenue with her boyfriend in the early hours of December 13 last year. A 4×4 vehicle driven by another female stopped abruptly in front of them, with Beggs allegedly getting out and grabbing the injured party by the neck.

The prosecutor contended that the driver shouted out the window “get her into the boot” and passed a kitchen knife to a second man who used it to keep the woman’s boyfriend back. Beggs then allegedly tried to manoeuvre the victim into the rear of the vehicle.

Mr Higgins said she was released after struggling and screaming, with the suspected perpetrators driving off in the 4×4. Before they left Beggs shouted that he knew which school the woman’s children attended and that he would see her there the next morning, it was claimed.

“It’s also alleged that he shouted to the male witness that if he wanted to see a murder he should continue to go with her,” the prosecutor added.

“The victim naturally is particularly upset, distressed and fearful for her own safety and that of her young children.”

Beggs was located and arrested at a house in the Tiger’s Bay area. During interviews he described the complainant’s account as “b******t”, and called the alleged threats “f***ed up”, the court heard.

Defence barrister Sean Mullan insisted serious doubts have been cast over her versions of events.

“This is a case of many layers, and it will be some time before those layers are peeled back and we reveal the kernel of what was behind all of this,” he argued.

Beggs now accepts being at the scene but claims he was attacked at an arranged meeting with the woman and her partner.

“The alleged victim and her boyfriend do not come to this with clean hands,” Mr Mullan added.

“It’s a case that could have many twists and turns.”

But denying bail to Beggs, Mr Justice Shaw cited the risk of any further offences or interference with witnesses. He said: “The accusations levelled against him are serious.”

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