Belfast Telegraph

Man with learning difficulties 'robbed at knifepoint'

A man with learning difficulties was robbed at knifepoint after being taken to a flat in Belfast, the High Court heard today.

The victim's vulnerability also included fears that his mother may find out about his sexuality, according to the prosecution.

It was claimed that he was forced to hand over £240 after meeting a man in the city centre.

Martin Begley (24) of no fixed abode, faces charges of robbery and possession of a weapon with intent over the incident in August.

He was granted bail but banned from having any contact with the victim.

The court heard claims that Begley took him to a co-accused's flat before going out to a bank machine where some of the cash was handed over.
A prosecution barrister said: "The injured party is a vulnerable adult with learning difficulties.

"There are other matters pertaining to his sexuality which he wished to keep from his mother."

She added that the co-accused alleged he only participated under duress.

"He said he feared (Begley) would turn the knife on him," the barrister said.

But defence counsel Denis Boyd contended that CCTV footage of the incident shows this was a lying account.

"The applicant instructs that he met this man and they went round to a party at (the co-accused's) flat and then all left to go to the bank machine," Mr Boyd said.

According to Begley's account he stood across the road and had nothing to do with a knife subsequently being pulled, the court heard.

Mr Boyd added: "There's no evidence the applicant knew the injured party was vulnerable or indeed that he was homosexual."

With the co-accused already out on bail, Mr Justice Horner decided to release Begley to live with his partner despite expressing "grave

The judge said:"There is obviously a clear prima facie case against  this defendant of very mean and nasty offences committed."

Begley's bail conditions also include an alcohol ban, electronic monitoring and a nighttime curfew.


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