Belfast Telegraph

Face of cleaner accused of building society raid

By Nevin Farrell

The cleaner charged with robbing the Nationwide Building Society in Coleraine where he worked has been pictured for the first time.

He also has a new job, a court has heard.

A lawyer said his client wanted his appearance at the town's Magistrates Court yesterday to be dealt with quickly so he could get to his new post by 11.30am.

Christopher Burgess (24) had originally told police he was the victim of a "tiger kidnapping", but he was charged with robbery and false imprisonment of his girlfriend.

Burgess, of Ballyallaght Farm Cottages, Dunseverick, is accused of being involved in a raid at the branch on January 10 this year.

A bail variation was adjourned until April and the court heard the accused's mother was no longer willing to provide a bail surety for her son, and that had now been taken over by his father.

He was released on continuing bail.

At the same court in January a defence solicitor said his client rejected any allegation he committed the robbery in which £1,253 was taken, but that he was the victim in the case.

A second accused, Adrian Clarke (32), a night porter of Dunluce Manor, Bushmills, also appeared separately at the January court on the same two charges as Burgess, and a further charge of carrying a firearm or imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery.

An officer told that court Burgess reported to police that three armed and masked men came to his home address, tied up his partner at gunpoint and ordered him to go to the Nationwide, where he was employed.

He told police he was ordered to steal cash, and that afterwards he was taken home and taped up.

The police officer said the accused said that while in the Nationwide he received a call, which he believed was from one of the robbers.

The officer said phone analysis showed the call was made from a phone belonging to co-accused Clarke, and that both worked together as night porters at the Causeway Hotel near the Giant's Causeway.

That court heard Burgess had three jobs - at the Nationwide, the hotel, and he is also a carer.

The officer believed Burgess would have recognised the voice of his friend. The policewoman alleged the route Burgess claimed he was taken from his home to Coleraine was different than that which police believe.

She said CCTV showed him entering the building society and removing money from a cashbox as well as going to a safe and ATM machine, and she said Burgess said he was told by the phone caller to try to get entry to the safe and ATM. The officer told the January court Burgess' partner said three armed men came to her home and at the time police were still looking for two other raiders, and also the stolen money.

The policewoman said Clarke was Burgess' supervisor at the Causeway Hotel.

Burgess' defence barrister Michael Smyth told the January court it was a "tiger kidnapping" and that his client had contacted police and was taken by two of the masked men, who he believed were armed, in his partner's car to Coleraine.

Mr Smyth said when his client was initially being dealt with as a witness he told police he used his mobile phone while in the Nationwide, and Mr Smyth asked if there was any evidence it was Mr Clarke on the phone.

The officer said Clarke confirmed he had the phone in his possession. The officer said Clarke admitted it was his phone and that he had it on the date in question.

In January Clarke was brought to the dock separately and his defence barrister Francis Rafferty said his client told police he phoned Burgess for an entirely innocent purpose because he was his hotel supervisor and was in charge of rotas, and there was nothing unusual in calling him at various times.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph