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Robbers fled when Belfast shopkeeper (78) produced hatchet

By Ashleigh McDonald

Three men who tried to rob a newsagent fled the scene when the 78-year-old proprietor produced a hatchet from behind the counter, a court has heard.

The trio - who were all residing at the Morning Star hostel in Belfast - were each handed a four-and-a-half year sentence at the city's Crown Court.

Glen King (26), Stephen James Allison (29), and Kevin Gallagher (29) admitted targeting the newsagents on the Dublin Road on November 3, 2015.

King, from Lavinia Square in Belfast, Allison from Adelaide Avenue in Whitehead, and Gallagher, from Herbert Avenue in Larne, were all informed they will serve half their sentence in custody, and half on licence after release.

After hearing all three were substance abusers, Judge Geoffrey Miller said: "Addiction to non-prescriptive drugs cannot provide an excuse for what was done that morning."

The judge was told by Crown counsel Philip Henry that the trio were captured on CCTV leaving the hostel and walking to the newsagents at the junction with Bruce Street.

King approached the counter armed with a long object which the shopkeeper thought was a knife, and the other two "effectively stood guard" at the door.

Mr Henry said that when King told the shopkeeper it was "hold up time", the pensioner "deliberately and slowly" walked towards the till before producing a hatchet. At this point, the would-be robbers fled the premises.

All three were later arrested and subsequently admitted attempted robbery.

Sending all three men to jail, Judge Miller said: "Clearly this must have been a frightening and traumatic experience for the shopkeeper, who acted with considerable bravery. He was, understandably, left very shaken."

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