Belfast Telegraph

Heroin addict robbed Belfast shop with broom handle to fund habit, court told

Belfast Magistrates’ Court (Niall Carson/PA)
Belfast Magistrates’ Court (Niall Carson/PA)

By Alan Erwin

A heroin addict allegedly robbed a south Belfast shop while armed with a broom handle to fund his habit, the High Court has heard.

Daryl McCourt, 24, is accused of stealing £400 in cash and £100 worth of cigarettes during the raid last week where a member of staff feared he would be attacked.

A judge was also told McCourt, of London Road in the city, has spent every birthday and Christmas in custody since he was 15.

But refusing bail, Mr Justice McAlinden ruled: "The issue of public protection must come to the fore."

McCourt faces charges of robbery, possession of an offensive weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence, and assaulting a police designated person.

Prosecution counsel Conor Maguire said a man entered the convenience store on the Dublin Road on November 24 wielding a broken metal shaft believed to be from a brush.

He demanded money before going behind the counter and taking the cash and cigarettes.

McCourt was later arrested on the Ormeau Road area.

Mr Maguire said he had a large amount of cash on him, including £200 down a sock, and 12 packets of cigarettes.

While in custody McCourt allegedly threw a phone at a jailer and told him: "So f***, sure it will only be a £25 fine."

During interviews he claimed to have no memory of the previous day's events.

But when CCTV footage was shown he made admissions about the robbery and having an offensive weapon, the court heard.

Turlough Madden, defending, confirmed his client is a heroin addict who spent his teenage years in the care system.

"It's a sad case where Mr McCourt has been in the custodial setting for every birthday and Christmas since the age of 15," the barrister said.

However, Mr Justice McAlinden cited the drug dependency as a reason for denying bail.

He said: "There are significant problems endemic with the use of heroin.

"In this particular case it's not just that he's causing a nuisance, it's a case of allegedly engaging in the robbery of a convenience store in order to fund his habit."

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