Belfast Telegraph

Robber caught by DNA from underpants he used as mask

By Ashleigh McDonald

A boxer shorts bandit who robbed a shop assistant at knifepoint has been handed a six-year prison sentence.

David Matthew Gillies (31) - who in December 2013 was jailed for 12 years after committing three other robberies - was linked to the incident by DNA, which was taken from a pair of discarded boxer shorts he used to cover his face.

Belfast Crown Court heard that on the evening of July 24, 2013 police received a 999 call from the Co-Op store on the Ormeau Road in Belfast reporting a robbery.

Crown prosecutor Peter Magill said the robber entered the store from the direction of Knockbreda Park, with the hood of his jacket over his head and a cotton-type item covering the lower half of his face.

With a knife in his hand, Gillies told the female shop assistant: "I am not going to hurt you, just open the till."

When the assistant said she couldn't open the till, Gillies handed her a packet of sweets and told her to scan them in to enable the till to open. When the till was opened, Gillies helped himself to around £150 in cash.

Mr Magill said police arrived at the scene quickly and a police dog swiftly led officers down an alleyway leading to Knockbreda Park. The dog led officers to a fence, where a discarded pair of boxer shorts and a black-handled kitchen knife were located.

The court heard the boxer shorts - which were examined and found to bear Gillies' DNA - were used as a "crude face mask" during the robbery.

He subsequently admitted robbery and possessing an offensive weapon.

Mr Magill revealed this was "the third in four" robberies committed between November 2012 and September 2013 by Gillies.

He was handed a 12-year sentence at the end of 2013 after appearing in Downpatrick Crown Court for three of the four robberies.

Mr Magill explained to Judge Gordon Kerr QC, that the investigation into the robbery at the Co-Op took longer to bring to court because of the DNA evidence involved.

He also said Gillies - whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry - was a man who "clearly has a drugs problem".

Defence barrister Frank O'Donoghue QC said Gillies' "dreadful record" was "to his shame", but said that the four robberies were committed after Gillies lost his job in April 2012 and the stability that goes with employment. Mr O'Donoghue also revealed that his client was managing his experience in prison "well", and urged Judge Kerr not to hand Gillies a sentence that would interfere with his release date in 2019.

Passing sentence, Judge Kerr said that robbing the small commercial premises while brandishing the knife would have caused "significant fear to the young lady who was working in the shop at the time".

Gillies will serve three years in jail to run concurrently to his existing term and the rest on licence.

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