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Workmates are cleared over building society robbery

By Nevin Farrell

Published 24/05/2016

A man accused of robbing the building society where he worked as a cleaner has had the charges against him withdrawn
A man accused of robbing the building society where he worked as a cleaner has had the charges against him withdrawn

A man accused of robbing the building society where he worked as a cleaner has had the charges against him withdrawn.

Christopher Burgess had originally told police he was the victim of a 'tiger' kidnapping after the Nationwide Building Society in Coleraine was raided on January 10.

But the 25-year-old was charged with robbery and false imprisonment of his girlfriend. A defence solicitor had said his client rejected any allegation he committed the robbery - in which £1,263 was taken - arguing that Mr Burgess was the victim in the case.

A co-accused - Adrian Clarke (32), a hotel night porter of Dunluce Manor, Bushmills - faced the same two charges as Mr Burgess, and a third of carrying a firearm or imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery.

At Coleraine Magistrates Court yesterday Mr Clarke was in the dock to hear District Judge Liam McNally say the charges were being withdrawn and a report will be sent to the Public Prosecution Service for consideration.

The Courts Service later confirmed that at the same court last Thursday the charges against Mr Burgess, of Ballyallaght Farm Cottages in Dunseverick, had similarly been "withdrawn, to proceed by way of report".

In January a police officer told the court Mr Burgess reported that three armed and masked men came to his home and tied up his partner at gunpoint before ordering him to go to the Nationwide, where he worked.

Mr Burgess told officers he was ordered to steal cash, and afterwards he was taken home and taped up.

The officer said the accused told police that while inside the building society he received a call, which he believed was from one of the robbers.

The officer claimed phone analysis showed the call was made from a phone belonging to co-accused Mr Clarke, and that both men worked together as night porters at the Causeway Hotel, near to the Giant's Causeway.

That court was told Mr Burgess had three jobs - at the building society, the hotel, and as a carer.

The officer believed Burgess would have recognised the voice of his friend.

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