Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Paranoid schizophrenic part of two-man robbery team is jailed

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A paranoid schizophrenic who was part of a two-man robbery team has been jailed for five years.

Belfast Crown Court heard that while one of the pair was armed with a hammer, 30-year-old Mark McKay wielded a knife when they robbed the Co-Op on the Beersbridge Road on August 8 last year.

Prosecuting lawyer Robin Steer described how the pair "manhandled" the female shop assistant while demanding she hand over money and cigarettes.

Her manager tried to intervene but was told by McKay to "get to f*** or I'll carve you up".

The pair left with £123 in cash and £269 worth of tobacco products but police happened to be nearby and they gave chase, catching both men within a short distance.

McKay, from Clandeboye Street in Belfast, claimed during police interviews that he could not remember what happened as he had stopped taking his medication although he later pleaded guilty to robbery and possessing a weapon with intent to commit robbery.

Mr Steer conceded that although it was accepted McKay did have mental health problems, it was he himself who had decided to stop taking it so "that cannot take away from his culpability".

The lawyer submitted the offence was aggravated because of the vulnerable nature of the business, the two female members of staff were both threatened and one was manhandled and also that there had been a degree of planning to the offence.

McKay, he said, also has a criminal record containing convictions for robbery, criminal damage and car theft.

Jailing McKay and ordering that he serve half his sentence in jail and half on supervised licence, Judge Gordon Kerr QC revealed that his accomplice had been sentenced to 30 months, lamenting that the pair had been dealt with separately.

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