Belfast Telegraph

Man who tried to rob Belfast shop told 'I will get your f****** legs broken,' court hears

When convicted robber was asked how he felt about this, he said 'I admired her for it'

A convicted robber who escaped from custody in the Republic or Ireland and who then travelled to Belfast on the bus told a jury on Wednesday how he bought a knife from a camping shop which he then used to threaten staff in a shop and chemists.

Derek Brockwell evaded prison staff escorting him from a Dublin prison to a hospital where he was being treated for diabetes in February 2015.

The day after his escape, he was arrested in a Belfast bar after robbing a chemists and attempting to rob a Spar shop armed with a knife.

The jury at Belfast Crown Court heard that during his arrest in the smoking area of Weatherspoons, a struggle ensued and Brockwell was tasered before stabbing himself in the stomach.

As he gave evidence at his trial, Brockwell described sitting in the bar just prior to his arrest where he saw he was "the top item" on the news programme.

The 56-year old, whose address was given as Frankland Prison in Durham, has been charged with attempted robbery, robbery and two counts of possessing a knife with intent to commit robbery.

And while the Scottish national admits he carried out the offences, he claims he was acting under duress by two men he met in Belfast and who threatened two of his cousins.

Brockwell claimed that after he escaped custody in Dublin, he was put in touch with two men in Belfast who he believed could help him get back to Scotland.

He said he arrived in Enniskillen on the evening of February 17th, and the next morning he boarded a bus to Belfast.

From the witness stand Brockwell said he got a taxi from the bus station to an address an India Street. When asked what happened in the house, Brockwell said: "We got to the crux of why I was there. I had been recommended to them by an acquaintance of theirs from the South.

"They were to facilitate a boat from Carrickfergus which was to get me back to Scotland. They laid down what they expected to be paid and when it was to be paid to take me to the Isle of Bute."

Brockwell said he was quoted a fee of £1,500. He said that he then called another acquaintance in the UK to ask for the money to be sent, only to be told 'you are asking me for £1,500 for a load of Micks we don't even know.'

The defendant claimed that when he told the two Belfast men that his UK acquaintance was not prepared to pay the price, the atmosphere changed and the cost of the boat trip increased to £10,000.

Brockwell said the men then asked 'do you know who we represent?' then mentioned the name Jock Davidson before talking about two of his cousins, who were also named.

He told the court: "I realised we were at the threatening stage now. They said 'we will not get them tomorrow, not next week, but some time.' That's standard regalia for a threat."

Brockwell said he then asked the duo 'how am I going to raise this in such a short space of time?', to which they replied 'you are the f****** robber, away out and rob.'

Describing himself as "boxed in" at this point, Brockwell said he left India Street and walked around the town for a while. He said he bought a knife in a camping shop, considered robbing the bus station and a building society but after abandoning these ideas, he then tried to rob the Spar on Howard Street "more by accident than by design."

He said the motivation for the would-be robbery was not for financial gain, but "just in case the threat was going to be backed up."

However, after demanding money from a shop assistance, Brockwell claims the woman in question was "robust", refused to hand over money and actually told him "I will get your f****** legs broken." When asked how he felt about this, Brockwell said "I admired her for it."

Following this botched robbery, Brockwell then walked to a chemists on the Dublin Road. They jury heard he had been in the same premises earlier that day and was assisted by a member of staff, who helped him treat a wound on his hand he sustained during his escape the day before.

During this second incident, Brockwell grabbed a male employee, stuck the knife to his abdomen and demanded his female colleague hand over the contents of the till - which amounted to £65. As he was leaving, Brockwell said 'good night, God bless.'

Telling the jury he asked for insulin during the robbery, which he didn't get, the defendant said: "The sweat was pouring out of me. It was a cold day. I just felt devoid of energy. I thought the best course of action was to get away from that area as quickly as possible."

Brockwell said he went into a city centre cinema, bought a ticket for a film about Stephen Hawking but abandoned that plan when he saw a man looking at him who he felt recognised him.

He then went to Weatherspoons and told the jury: "I got a drink to steady my nerves. There were TV screens everywhere. The Newsline TV programme came on and I was the first item on it."

Brockwell said be took himself outside and was writing postcards to his cousins when he was approached by police and arrested at 7.10pm.

Brockwell's claim of robbing the businesses to obtain money to pay for the boat trip and to combat the threats to his cousins was branded as "a lot of nonsense" by a Crown barrister, who suggested he carried out the botched and successful robberies, and terrified the staff involved, for his own financial gain.

He replied: "You are not listening to me. Time was not on my side. I was a hunted animal. It was only a matter of time before I was exposed before I got out of the country, so that's why I made the decisions so quickly."

At hearing.

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