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Judgment reserved in £85,000 raid trial

Judgment has been reserved in a Belfast trial which made legal history after a judge discharged a jury and decided to hear the case on his own.

Stephen Paul McStravick (40), from Vianstown Road, Downpatrick, and Michael Clarke (30), from Upper Whiterock Road, Belfast, have denied the robbery of £85,000 from the Brinks Ireland security firm in May 2008.

They have also denied the false imprisonment and kidnap of the partner of a Brinks employee and her four-year-old son who were taken from their home in Killough in County Down and held captive in a house on Belfast's Ravenhill Road.

They were not freed until the Brinks employee got the £85,000 from his firm and left it in a salt box in the Dargan Road area of Belfast.

At the end of the prosecution's case at Belfast Crown Court, Mr Justice McCloskey discharged the jury for legal reasons and after listening to numerous applications from lawyers on both sides, decided to carry on hearing the trial as a Diplock judge — the first time that it has ever happened in Northern Ireland.

The judge said he would give his verdict within a fortnight.

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