Belfast Telegraph

Man who robbed shop to buy son gifts used riots as a distraction

By Paul Higgins

A man who robbed his local shop to buy his son's birthday presents has been jailed for a total of 28 months.

Belfast Crown Court heard that using a backdrop of serious rioting as a distraction, 25-year-old James Boreland (right) stole £200 from a Centra filling station on the O'Neill Road in Newtownabbey.

Prosecuting lawyer Tessa Kitson outlined how the police were coming under attack during a Union flag protest on January 4 this year, leaving their resources "stretched".

While officers were concentrating on the riot, six men went into the shop and "ransacked" it. Shortly after they left, a lone robber wielding a broken bottle and with a scarf covering his face came in and demanded money threatening that he was "serious".

The lawyer said that Boreland left with £200 but that police investigations and CCTV examinations revealed that he had been in two hours beforehand, unmasked and wearing identical clothing.

Mrs Kitson revealed that when officers arrested him a week after the robbery, Boreland admitted the hold-up and claimed it was to buy birthday presents for his 18-month-old son. Boreland, from Ardmillan Drive in Newtownabbey, later pleaded guilty to a single charge of robbery. Defence lawyer Taylor Campbell said given the fact that he had been in the shop earlier that evenning "it's feeble, the whole thing is just fundamentally stupid".

He told the judge that despite Boreland's claims of what the money was to be used for, "he doesn't know where it went".

Imposing a two-year jail sentence for the robbery and activating a four-month previously suspended sentence Boreland had received for benefit fraud, Judge Corinne Philpott QC ordered him to spend half the sentence in jail and half on supervised licence conditions.

She told Boreland that he had been "extremely threatening and aggressive" towards the two female shop assistants and that as for his supposed excuse, "at a year-and-a-half you don't usually appreciate how much or how little is spent".

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