Belfast Telegraph

Bail denied to armed hold-up accused with 'a significant record'

By Ashleigh McDonald

A "primary offender in the Larne area" who is facing charges arising from an armed robbery in the town has been refused bail.

Belfast's High Court heard yesterday that one week after the incident, during which £5,000 was stolen, Ryan Connor lodged £2,000 into his bank account, which police believe was "part of the proceeds of the robbery".

Connor, from Priory Gardens, is facing five charges arising from the armed robbery which occurred at the Spar Store on Lynn Road on June 19.

As the owner was opening at around 6.35am two men entered the store wearing gloves and balaclavas and brandishing a sawn-off double-barrelled shotgun.

It is the Crown's case that 35-year-old Connor was one of the men, and that he and a co-accused forced the owner to hand over cash.

Crown barrister Kate McKay said that during the incident threats were made to blast open the safe using the gun. After £5,000 was handed over, the pair fled in a stolen car bearing false number plates and which was later found abandoned.

Connor was arrested later that day and refused to answer police questions, including accounting for his movements that morning. At this point he was released on police bail.

Mrs McKay said clothes and other items were recovered during a search conducted close to the abandoned car and, on June 26, forensics experts indicated Connor's DNA profile was found on a balaclava. He handed himself in to police on July 7.

Telling Mr Justice Colton that police were opposing bail, Mrs McKay said Connor was a "primary offender in the Larne area" and had a "considerable" criminal record with 41 previous convictions. The prosecutor said that at the time of the armed robbery Connor was under a suspended sentence for a prior offence.

Mrs McKay also said that two days after the robbery Connor was seen driving on Lynn Road close to the Spar, prompting concerns he may interfere with witnesses. She said another reason for opposing his release was linked to a history of breaching bail.

Defence barrister Michael Boyd said a suggestion that Connor would interfere with witnesses was "not grounded".

Accepting there was forensic evidence to link his client to the balaclava, Mr Boyd said "this is not incontrovertible evidence that he was involved in the robbery". While he acknowledged that Connor's criminal record was "nothing to be proud of", he spoke of a significant reduction in his client's offending in the last few years.

Asking that Connor be granted bail, Mr Boyd said: "He has been on bail in the past. He knows the rules. If he was given bail and he didn't adhere to it, he will go straight into custody for a very lengthy period of time."

Branding the charges Connors faces as "very serious", Mr Justice Colton spoke of his "significant" criminal record, previous bail breaches and the suspended sentence. Refusing the application, the judge said Connors was "not an appropriate candidate for bail".

Belfast Telegraph


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