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Man accused of shop raids says he was 'stoned'

Published 23/08/2012

A man accused of trying to rob three Belfast city centre shops in 15 minutes said he was ‘stoned’ at the time, the High Court has heard.

Martin Millar is alleged to have attempted early morning raids on two branches of Mace and a Centra store last week.

Prosecutors said staff were told to hand over the contents of their tills, with a screwdriver brandished on one occasion.

The intruder, who approached the counter with a chocolate bar and bag of sweets in two of the shops, left empty-handed each time.

Millar (27) of no fixed address, denies charges of attempted robbery and possession of an offensive weapon with intent to commit an offence.

He was granted bail but banned from entering the centre of Belfast.

The attempted robberies occurred on Chichester Street, High Street and Royal Avenue between 7.00am and 7.15am on August 15.

Prosecution counsel, Conor Maguire, said CCTV footage has confirmed the same man carried out all three.

Following his arrest, Millar denied the offences but admitted having a drugs problem, the court heard.

Mr Maguire said: “During interview in respect of these matters he said he was stoned that day.”

A defence barrister argued that Millar could be released to live with his father in north Belfast, with strict conditions imposed to counter the risk of any re-offending.

Lord Justice Coghlin identified Millar's drug dependency as a factor in his alleged behaviour.

He said: “It's an indication of the depths to which individuals will sink if they become addicted.”

He granted bail because keeping him in custody could hinder ongoing rehabilitation efforts.

The judge added: “He is not to enter the centre of Belfast or any commercial premises therein other than for court appearances.”

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