EXCLUSIVE: TWO brothers of a murdered west Belfast pizza delivery driver have faced a court accused of car hijacking after a police officer was injured by a stolen car.
And Belfast Daily can reveal that one of the brothers was on the run from prison authorities when the offences were committed while out on compassionate to attend Kieran McManus’s funeral.
Kieran McManus, 26, was gunned down outside Domino’s pizza takeaway shop at Kennedy Way on Easter Saturday night by a lone masked gunman as he was about to head out on a delivery run.
In Belfast Magistrates Court on Monday were his brothers Joseph and Michael McManus, aged 27 and 19.
They wre arrested following attempts to stop a Renault Megane in west Belfast early on Saturday morning.
A PSNI officer suffered chest injuries during the incident outside the Suffolk Inn on the Suffolk Road.
The brothers, both of Orchard Hill, Crumlin, Co Antrim, are each charged with aggravated vehicle taking and assault on police.
Joseph McManus is also accused of driving while unfit through drink or drugs, causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving, and failing to stop for police.
A detective told Belfast Magistrates’ Court she could connect both suspects to the alleged offences.
With Joseph McManus making no application for bail, he was remanded in custody to appear again by video link later this month.
His brother had appeared in court on police bail following the weekend incident.
Michael McManus was released again to return again in eight weeks time. District Judge Fiona Bagnall ordered him to have no contact with any prosecution witnesses.
He was also subjected to a curfew, electronic tagging and banned from being in a motor vehicle unless accompanied by a parent or solicitor.
Belfast Daily can reveal that last Thursday, April 4, Joseph McManus was granted temporary compassionate release to attend his murdered brother’s funeral in Turf Lodge, west Belfast.
He heard parish priest Fr Brendan Smyth urge mourners not to seek revenge for Kieran McManus’s murder, saying the family had suffered enough.
Kieran McManus, a father-of-one, was shot in the back with a shotgun in a ‘close quarter killing’ as he put pizza delivery boxes into his car at Kennedy Way on Easter Saturday night.
However, Joseph McManus failed to return to jail and instead went on the run from the prison authorities.
As a result, the NI Prison Service published a picture of him on their website giving his most up to date details.
Offence: Burglary, Theft and Allowing Self To Be Carried
Description: Height 1.65, Slim Build, Fresh Complexion
Eye colour: Green
Hair colour: Black
Scars – Abdomen, left eye, upper right leg
Tattoo – ‘J’ middle right finger
Release type : Compassionate Temporary Release.
After being on the run for over 48 hours, Joseph Robert Francis McManus is now back in custody in Maghaberry where he is expected to lose privileges for being ‘unlawfully at large’ (UAL) from prison.
Belfast Daily first revealed last week that in February 2010, Kieran and Joseph McManus were remanded in custody over an attack on a man in Turf Lodge.
Police said the man temporarily lost his sight and hearing, and had to undergo major surgery to reconstruct his arm after the incident on Friday.
Joseph McManus, 24, and Kieran McManus, then 23, of Norglen Parade, who denied the charges, were accused of trying to kill Michael Smith.
The victim is believed to have been attacked with a sword or a machete.
The brothers each face further charges of affray and threatening to kill another man, Edward Devine.
Both were also accused of possessing offensive weapons – Kieran McManus a bladed instrument and Joseph McManus a wooden baton.
Joseph McManus faced an additional charge of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to Edward Devine.
They were remanded in custody to appear again after no bail application was made at Belfast Magistrates Court.
A detective sergeant who said he could connect them with the offences, confirmed both suspects denied the charges during interviews.
The court heard counter-allegations have been made that they were themselves assaulted, with three car-loads of men said to have arrived at the scene.
It was alleged that one of those on “the other side” claimed to be from the Continuity IRA, and another from the Oglaigh na hEireann grouping.
The detective stressed the seriousness of the victim’s wounds, and produced a photograph of the car which transported him to hospital.
He told the court: “His injuries were such that had he been delayed in getting to hospital a few minutes later, hospital staff have informed us he would almost certainly have died.”
The victim was said to have lost hearing and sight for a time, and initially declined to speak to police.
“The update is that he had to undergo eight hours of surgery to reconstruct his arm and is going under further surgery today,” the officer added.
Photographs and DNA samples were to be taken from him as part of the investigation, the court heard.
During questioning, defence solicitor Michael Crawford disclosed that men claiming to be from the Continuity IRA have put the accused’s mother and sister out of their home.
The officer confirmed he was aware of further incidents over the weekend which would be probed.
Detectives are now investigating a link between Keiran McManus’s murder and the court case three years ago.