Belfast Telegraph

Armed robber Eamonn O'Boyle fails to have conviction overturned

A Belfast man jailed for an armed robbery where he tied up an elderly couple and threatened to cut off their sons fingers has failed in a bid to overturn his conviction.

Senior judges also rejected attempts by Eamonn O'Boyle and his co-accused Kieran Smyth to reduce their 16-year and 12-year prison terms for the cash and jewellery raid on the home of a Co Down businessman.

Lord Justice Weir ruled there was nothing excessive about the sentences handed down to the pair.

O'Boyle, 42, of Westrock Gardens in the city, and 57-year-old Smyth, from Springfield Avenue in Belfast, admitted charges of robbery, three counts of false imprisonment, having a firearm or imitation firearm, and aggravated vehicle taking.

The Court of Appeal heard how the businessman, then aged 82, and his son were set upon by three men wearing balaclavas armed with a handgun as they returned from their Ballynahinch shop in September 2013.

Shouting that they were from the UDA or the UVF, the men forced the pair into the family home on the outskirts of the town.

The businessman's 76-year-old wife, who was preparing dinner in the kitchen at the time, was threatened with a gun.

Tying them up at their hands and feet and making them lie on the floor, one of the gang lifted a kitchen knife and threatened to cut off the fingers of the couple's son if they didn't hand over cash and valuables and also keys to a safe and a car.

After ripping phone lines from the walls the gang sped off in the woman's stolen Mercedes car.

Before leaving, the masked men warned the bound-up family members that they had someone watching the house.

But the elderly lady managed to free herself and called the police to raise the alarm.

The court heard that officers spotted the stolen Mercedes on the Malone Road in south Belfast.

Following a pursuit which ended when the car crashed, O'Boyle and Smyth were arrested. A third man was said to have fled and remains at large.

Cash totaling £5,570 was found along with a Rolex Oyster watch, mobile phones and tie pins.

O'Boyle's bid to overturn his conviction centred on a refusal to let him vacate his guilty plea at trial.

But the appeal judges rejected defence arguments, and held that all grounds had no prospect of success.

His lawyers also challenged the indeterminate sentence imposed, which will see him serve at least eight years behind bars.

Again, however, that appeal was turned down along with the attempt to reduce the 12-year term handed down to Smyth.

Stressing the seriousness of the crime, Lord Justice Weir said it had been "a carefully pre-planned and executed attack upon an elderly couple and their son".

He added that the robbers use of balaclavas and portrayal as being from a paramilitary organisation "must have added significantly to their victims' fear as to what fate might befall them".

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