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Man jailed for Portrush security van heist fails to overturn conviction

A man jailed for his role in a cash-in-transit bank heist foiled by undercover police in Portrush has failed in a bid to overturn his conviction.

Alexander Carlin, 41, claimed he was coerced into pleading guilty to involvement in the robbery disrupted after officers followed the crime gang from Belfast.

But the Court of Appeal ruled that his admissions were unequivocal and voluntary.

Lord Justice Gillen said: "There's absolutely no medical evidence to give weight to his own assertion that there was pressure on him to plead guilty."

Carlin, formerly of Margaretta Crescent in Belfast, was one of four men convicted of the robbery carried out in February 2012.

They had travelled up to 60 miles in a convoy of two cars before targeting a security van making a cash delivery to a Danske Bank branch in the seaside town.

A co-accused armed with a large kitchen knife approached an undercover police officer posing as a security guard while Carlin and the other two men remained nearby.

All four of them were arrested and subsequently pleaded guilty to robbery.

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Carlin was later jailed for four years and ordered to serve a further four years on licence.

His current legal team applied to appeal the conviction by claiming the trial judge failed to properly inquire into the circumstances of his plea.

It was contended that his admissions were equivocal and unacceptable, with reports that he had continued to deny involvement in the robbery.

The Court of Appeal also heard allegations of coercion being used against Carlin, who was described as having limited intellectual ability.

However, complaints against former legal representatives were found to be groundless. No evidence of any professional misconduct was established.

Ruling on the appeal, the judges said it was inconceivable that any desire by Carlin to abandon his guilty plea would have been withheld.

They also pointed to his record of 282 previous convictions, adding that he had ample opportunity to raise the issue before sentencing.

Dismissing the application, Lord Justice Gillen said: "We find nothing ambiguous or equivocal in this plea of guilty, or anything t suggest his plea was entered on anything other than a voluntary basis."

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