Belfast Telegraph

Knife burglar who robbed cop visiting Belfast jailed

A burglar who robbed a policeman from Oman who was in Belfast has been handed a 21-month prison term
A burglar who robbed a policeman from Oman who was in Belfast has been handed a 21-month prison term

By Ashleigh McDonald

A burglar who robbed a policeman from Oman who was in Belfast has been handed a 21-month prison term.

John Joseph Russell will spend an additional 21 months on licence when he is released after he admitted involvement in the armed robbery.

The 29-year-old, from Kinnaird Avenue in Belfast, was one of two men who broke into an apartment at Obel Tower in the city centre on September 19, 2017.

Belfast Crown Court heard the men staying in the apartment were police officers from Oman, and that when the intruders were met with a "robust challenge" they "took to their heels".

A prosecuting barrister said Russell and the co-accused - who has already been sentenced - entered Obel Tower at around 1am and walked into an unlocked apartment where two men were staying.

The intruders took two knives from the kitchen and entered one of the bedrooms, where they demanded cash from the occupant, who handed them his wallet which contained £250.

One of the knives was recovered and DNA from it matched the co-accused, while Russell was identified from CCTV footage.

Judge Kevin Finnegan was told the men in the apartment were visiting police officers in Northern Ireland for public order training with the PSNI.

Defence barrister Stephen Toal cited the robbery as unplanned, adding Russell and the co-accused did not arrive armed.

Mr Toal said his client had "completely transformed his life" since the incident.

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