Belfast Telegraph

Loyalist duo fail to overturn violent armed raid verdicts

By John Kerr

Two Northern Ireland criminals with loyalist paramilitary connections have failed to overturn their convictions for plotting a snooker club robbery in England.

Gangster William Grogan (49) and former UDA member and convicted killer, Alexander Calderwood (48), who were both living in Bournemouth, oversaw the terrifying raid on the Academy Snooker club in the town in October, 2008.

The armed robbery was carried out by two other men.

One fired a shot into the air and the other hit a blind man with a claw hammer before they made off with £4,300.

Grogan and Calderwood, both originally from Belfast, were convicted of conspiracy to rob at Bournemouth Crown Court in July last year.

Central figure Grogan was sentenced to 15 years in jail and Calderwood to seven years.

Calderwood is an ex-UDA man who served 11 years in jail for the murder of 20-year-old Catholic Alexander Reid, who was battered to death with a concrete block in 1980. During the original trial, Grogan gave evidence calmly and succinctly. He said he was a successful pub manager with no need to rob people.

However, his record shows exactly why police suspected him from the start. Convictions include selling class A drugs, nine robberies, having a firearm, GBH, money laundering, assault and disqualified driving.

In 1988 he was convicted in Manchester of armed robbery. He was jailed in February 2001 for six years for supplying drugs in Winton. By then he had received jail terms totalling 65-and-a-half years.

Yesterday Lord Justice Elias, Mr Justice Simon and Judge Martin Stephens QC, sitting at London's Criminal Appeal Court, heard them each challenge both their convictions and the sentences they received for their respective parts in the raid. Lord Justice Elias told the court that Grogan was the mastermind behind the plot, which he organised from The Deacon's public house, where he was the landlord, and which was in the same road as the snooker club.

Calderwood and the other two men also lived in flats at the pub and CCTV evidence from cameras at the premises formed a vital strand of the prosecution's evidence that Grogan and Calderwood had plotted the robbery.

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