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Four men jailed for armed robbery bid

ONE of a gang of four would-be robbers gave a clenched-fist salute to shouts of "Tiocfaidh Ar La" and "see you soon, son" as they were led to jail yesterday.

Belfast Crown Court heard yesterday that the four men carried out a "ruthless" attempted robbery of a post office in Ligoniel in north Belfast which showed "no regard for the safety of staff or customers".

Belfast Crown Court heard yesterday that the four men carried out a "ruthless" attempted robbery of a post office in Ligoniel in north Belfast which showed "no regard for the safety of staff or customers".

Belfast men Joseph Connor (24) from Cedar Avenue; Christopher Donaldson (22) from Newington Avenue; and 34-year old Gerard Chapman from Antigua Street were each given a 12-year jail term for their role in the robbery bid.

A fourth man, getaway driver Darren Hannaway (28) from Summerhill Grange, was sentenced to 11 years in jail and a further 12-month period of supervision.

Crown prosecutor Peter Magill told the court that, on June 2 2004, three masked men entered a north Belfast post office, one of whom produced a gun. They approached the counter demanding to be let into the office, but a female employee refused.

The gang fled but were followed by police to Ballyhill Road. When they tried to flee the scene, officers fired three shots in the air and they stopped running.

The gun was not recovered.

Judge Tom Burgess said the incident "was carried out ruthlessly and with no regard for the safety of the staff or customers, one of whom had a small child with her."

He said: "We don't know whether [the gun] was real or imitation, but it would have looked all too real for those in the shop, particularly the lady to whom it was pointed."

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