A north Belfast man who acted as a getaway driver following two separate violent robberies on women has been handed a seven-and-a-half-year sentence.
Ross Thompson (39) used his work van as the getaway vehicle and was linked to the crimes via the van's tracking device.
During one of the robberies, a cash and carry employee had an iron bar put to her throat, whilst the gang's second victim was robbed and threatened at knifepoint in her home with her sons aged 10 and three present.
As she imposed the sentence at Belfast Crown Court - which she divided equally between prison and custody - Judge Donna McColgan QC said the violent incidents were "undoubtedly a terrifying ordeal for both women, and for the children concerned."
The Judge said that while she accepted Thompson's role was limited to that of the getaway driver, he was part of two planned robberies carried out by an organised crime gang.
CCTV footage of the first robbery at a cash and carry on Belfast's Duncrue Street was played in court.
At around 6.30pm on August 9, 2019 a female was working alone when a three-man gang entered the store.
One of the men - who was masked and armed with an iron bar - placed the weapon at the woman's throat and grabbed her by the neck.
She was then dragged into the office, where the masked man removed £20,000 from the safe. A further £2,000 was stolen from the till by a second accomplice.
After they robbed the store, the trio fled in a Renault Clio, which was later found burnt out.
They then made their way on foot across a pedestrian bridge at the M2 where they were picked up by Thompson in his Mercedes Sprinter work van.
The second robbery was carried out at around 5pm on September 20, 2019 in the Antrim Road area of the city.
A mother-of-two was in her back garden when she was approached by a masked man.
She managed to get into her house, but the man forced his way in, held her by the throat and covered her mouth with his other hand.
The woman was put to the floor by the masked man, while a second man walked into her kitchen.
She then had a knife put to her throat, was threatened that boiling water would be poured on her and was dragged upstairs.
After she gave the robbers money, they ransacked her bedroom before leaving with her MacBook Pro.
Once again, Thompson drove the same getaway vehicle.
Judge McColgan said that during this robbery, the occupant's young children were at home and were "understandably terrified" by what occurred.
The Judge said that after reading a Victim Impact Statement from the mother-of-two, it was clear the incident has had a "profound effect" on her.
She added Thompson "should be encouraged to read that statement."
Thompson, from Arosa Parade, was linked to the incidents via a tracking device on the work van, and following his arrest he initially denied involvement.
He later admitted two counts of robbery, two counts of taking a vehicle without authority and two counts of driving with no insurance.
Prior to passing sentence, Judge McColgan said she had considered defence submissions made on behalf of Thompson.
She said she accepted he had a history of drug and mental health issues, had no relevant criminal record and has expressed remorse for his involvement.
Acknowledging Thompson's limited role, the Judge said he was nonetheless involved incidents where violence, weapons and threats were used against two women.
After the sentence was imposed, Thompson was handcuffed by prison staff and led into custody.