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Belfast convenience store robbery 'inside job' accused claims

By Alan Erwin

Published 19/05/2016

A woman accused of robbing an east Belfast convenience store with her new boyfriend claims it was an
A woman accused of robbing an east Belfast convenience store with her new boyfriend claims it was an "inside job", a court heard today

A woman accused of robbing an east Belfast convenience store with her new boyfriend claims it was an "inside job", a court has heard.

Deborah McCully (28) alleges that a member of staff had suggested the couple target him in the raid on Tuesday, her lawyer revealed.

A judge has now urged police to complete inquiries in a case where the shop worker is still being treated as a victim.

McCully, of Abbot Link in Newtownards, appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court along with 27-year-old William Meekin, from Abbey Park in the city.

The pair are jointly charged with robbing the shop on the Upper Newtownards Road of cash and cigarettes.

They are also alleged to have stole £5 from a man in the premises and a further £270 belonging to one of his relatives.

Both defendants are further accused of possessing offensive weapons with intent to commit an indictable offence, including a kitchen knife, screwdriver and hammer.

Meekin faces an extra count of criminal damage to doors and windows allegedly smashed at the shop.

Solicitor Adrian Harvey, representing McCully, told the court she had only started a relationship with her co-accused two days earlier.

Mr Harvey said she has now provided a "frank and concerning" account to police.

"Her case is they went into the shop earlier in the day and the person behind the counter put the idea in her head to come back later in the evening and rob him," he claimed.

The couple were said to have been drinking together at Meekin's flat on the day of the alleged raid.

Deputy District Judge Joe Rice asked if police were still examining the potential "inside job" line of inquiry.

Confirming that was the case, an officer replied: "We have been treating that person as a victim."

CCTV footage from the scene is still being studied, the court heard.

Adjourning bail applications for both accused, Mr Rice stressed: "Police inquiries have to run their course and I'm urging expedition."

McCully and Meekin were remanded in custody to appear again by video-link on Friday.

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