Belfast Telegraph

Addict who used knife in 'amateurish' pharmacy hold-up given six-year term

By Ashleigh McDonald

A father-of-three who brandished a knife during the attempted robbery of a west Belfast pharmacy has been sentenced to six years.

Steven Patrick Mackessy used the knife to create a makeshift balaclava that he wore during the incident and which was removed by staff and customers who detained him at the scene.

The 30-year-old, from Dunwellan Park in Newcastle, demanded both cash and drugs during the botched hold-up in which the store manager sustained a wound to his hand while grappling with Mackessy.

After admitting three charges arising from the attempted robbery of the pharmacy on the Andersonstown Road on August 18 last year, Mackessy was handed the six-year term and was informed he will spend three years in prison followed by three years on supervised licence.

Passing sentence at Belfast Crown Court, Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said it was clear that the incident was a "frightening and traumatic event for all involved", especially the manager.

The court heard that at the time of the offence Mackessy had been diagnosed with elements of post-traumatic stress disorder due to a number of experiences, including the 2014 murder of his uncle, the suicide of two friends, and he himself being shot in the legs.

It also emerged the motivation for the attempted robbery was to obtain drugs to feed his addiction.

Defence barrister Declan Quinn said Mackessy had written a letter to the staff and customers caught up in the incident. Telling them "the man I was that day is not me", Mackessy expressed his remorse and regret and stated "to the people I physically hurt, sorries are not going to be enough".

Mr Quinn branded the would-be robbery as "amateurish". As well as wearing a homemade balaclava, Mackessy was also dressed in bright shorts and a T-shirt that exposed a "very distinctive tattoo".

The defence barrister told the court Mackessy had "very little recollection" of the incident.

Handing down the sentence, Judge Miller said that while he accepted Mackessy's remorse was genuine, he had to be punished for what he did.

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