Belfast Telegraph

Sniffer dog 'tracked down shop robber'

By Alan Erwin

A police sniffer dog tracked down clothing linked to a gang accused of a "ferocious" raid on a Co Tyrone convenience store, the High Court has heard.

The animal recovered a blood-soaked shirt close to where two of the suspects were detained after a car crash, prosecutors said.

Details emerged as bail was refused to one of the men charged in connection with the cash heist at a Mace store in Newmills on August 8. Dominic Fitzpatrick (40) of Windmill Drive, Dungannon, denies a single count of robbery.

Prosecution lawyer Conor Maguire said two men wearing balaclava-type disguises entered the shop brandishing a hammer and a crowbar. One of them grabbed two female employees by their throats before the staff escaped, screaming for help.

After ransacking the shop and grabbing a cash box, the raiders left in a waiting Toyota MR2.

A short time later police were alerted to an MR2 car having crashed into a hedge on the Drumconnor Road, Dungannon.

Mr Maguire said the vehicle had reportedly left the road and at one point been airborne. Three men were seen running from the car. Police then deployed the sniffer dog as part of their hunt for the suspects, the court heard.

It detected a black snood about 300m from the crash scene.

A co-accused was arrested, bare-chested and lying in nettles, following reports of a man trying to hide in a field. The police dog also recovered a T-shirt soaked in blood.

According to the prosecution, Fitzpatrick's clothing matched that worn by one of the raiders.

Mr Maguire added: "When police viewed CCTV (of the robbery) they said it became clear this was a ferocious attack."

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