A man who robbed a shop, hi-jacked a taxi and then held a large knife to the driver’s throat told a court that he was not a violent man.

Rian Harkin, aged 26, appeared before Letterkenny Circuit Court in Co Donegal.

The court heard that Harkin took a taxi to a shop in a car being driven by Stephen Gallagher in Derry on April 14th last.

He stopped off at a shop, robbed it and then casually got back into the taxi.

Customers ran out of the shop looking for the thief and tax-driver Gallagher realised his fare was actually the robber.

Harkin threatened the driver and ordered him to cross the border into Muff in Co Donegal.

When the driver of the taxi was not responding to radio calls, his company alerted other drivers to be on the lookout for him.

Another driver spotted Mr Gallagher in Muff but when he tried to go to his colleague’s aid, Harkin put the knife to Mr Gallagher’s throat and ordered him to drive northwards to Quigley’s Point.

Harkin became more agitated on the journey because of radio calls and at one stage threw money in the front seat of the car and tried to climb into the front seat.

Mr Gallagher saw his opportunity and slammed on the brakes sending the accused hi-jacker tumbling forward.

The driver then pulled the keys from the car and rolled out of the vehicle and sustained cuts and abrasions.

Harkin fled but was arrested a short time later in Drung, Quigley’s Point by Garda Stephen Carroll.

He was taken to Buncrana Garda station but while in a consultation room, he smashed a window and fled again.

He was spotted outside a house in Buncrana and then fled into the home of a young Polish couple who were left terrified.

However, he was arrested a short time later.

The court was told that Harkin has 60 previous convictions for both sides of the border but none for violence.

They include charges of theft, burglary, road traffic, drugs and criminal damage.

His barrister Mr Peter Nolan said his client was very sorry for what he had done but was of limited education.

He described the incident as a “hairbrained idea” and admitted his client was “no saint.”

Harkin claimed he robbed the shop to help a friend who was in debt.

The accused added “I would never have hurt him. I’m sorry for scaring him. I’m not a violent person.”

Judge John Aylmer adjourned the case until Friday to give his judgement.


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