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Man who mugged foreign students and then gave himself up avoids jail term

By Eamonn MacDermott

A Londonderry man who robbed a group of foreign exchange students has been told that "you let the whole city down by your behaviour".

Seamus Doherty (20), whose address was given as the Simon Community Linenhall Street in Armagh, admitted one count of robbery on July 3, 2016.

The court heard that a group of Spanish exchange students were in Magazine Street in Derry when one of them, a 14-year-old, was approached by Doherty who asked for £3 for cigarettes.

He was given the money in a bid to get rid of him, but he demanded more.

He approached the students aggressively and indicated he had a knife in his pocket and threatened to cut them, the court heard.

The students ran off and the police were called.

The court was told that it was unlikely Doherty would have been apprehended such were the differences in descriptions.

But some three days later he handed himself in to the police station stating he wanted to go to Hydebank "to sort his life out".

He admitted the robbery and that he had pretended to have a knife. He also told police he was on drugs at the time.

Defence barrister Stephen Mooney said it was a "despicable and cowardly" act.

But he added that Doherty would have got away with it if he had not handed himself in.

He said Doherty had turned his life around and was "prepared to meet this like a man".

Passing sentence, Judge Philip Babington said it was "a serious charge" and accepted Doherty would probably not have been arrested.

He said "for some reason" Doherty handed himself in and told the truth.

He said Doherty was 20 years old and had 34 previous convictions, but added that it was a case where an "exceptional course can be taken".

He told Doherty: "You let the whole city down by your behaviour.

"This city depends on visitors and this is not a great way to attract them."

He sentenced Doherty to 18 months on probation and stressed that it was "an exceptional case".

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