Remanded over cross border hearse incident

A man who allegedly stole a hearse and then abducted his teenage daughter and her friend, brought them across the border to Donegal, the High Court heard yesterday.

A man who allegedly stole a hearse and then abducted his teenage daughter and her friend, brought them across the border to Donegal, the High Court heard yesterday.

Jonathon Ayton of Bonds Hill, Derry, took the girls across the border while driving at high speeds for up to 12 hour the court heard.

It was also alleged that the 38-year-old told the girls to take the SIM cards from their mobile phones during the overnight incident.

A judge ordered that he was to be prosecuted for two counts of child abduction.

He has also been charged with a number of motoring offences including taking the hearse, dangerous driving and having no insurance.

Mr. Ayton was refused bail due to the risk of further offending and concerns he may not turn up for trial.

The court heard the hearse was taken from outside a funeral director’s at an undisclosed location in the city in September 2010.

Although no coffin was in the vehicle, Kate McKay, prosecuting, said: “It was being loaded at the time it was stolen.”

She claimed the vehicle was driven erratically and then used to collect both Ayton’s daughter and her friend the same night before being driven to Donegal with the girls.

Mrs McKay said the two friends asked to go home but were not returned until the following morning.

“The girls were said to be extremely upset by the whole incident,” she told the court.

The allegation is also being investigated by Gardai.

A defence barrister argued the accused should be released on bail due to the delays in the case.

Mr Justice Hart acknowledged that the length of time the case has taken was unsatisfactory but refused the application.

“I’m entirely satisfied that, if admitted to bail ,there is a very grave risk he would not turn up and would abscond,” he stated.