Six-year sentence for robbers caught after falling off motorbike
Two west Belfast men who robbed a fashion store in the Park Centre were both handed six-year sentences yesterday.
Ryan Devlin (21), from Spamount Street, and Joseph Duffy (31), from Whiterock Gardens, were told they will serve half their sentence in prison, with the remaining three years on licence, for the "opportunistic offence".
As the pair tried to flee the Park Centre on a stolen motorbike, security staff closed the gates and they were apprehended by police in the car park.
Both the money stolen from the till, and items taken from the shop, were recovered.
Belfast Crown Court heard that during the robbery, Devlin - whose father Gerard was murdered in February 2006 - produced a knife which he used to threaten staff.
Jailing the pair, Judge David McFarland said the incident would have been a "frightening experience" for staff, and members of the public going about their business. Prior to sending Duffy and Devlin to jail, Judge McFarland was told by a Crown prosecutor that the pair targeted the New Look store at around 7.50pm on October 7, 2016.
They arrived at the Park Centre on a motorcycle that had been stolen from the grounds of St Mary's the day before.
While Devlin made his way to the till area where he produced a knife, Duffy walked to another part of the store where he stole items including handbags.
The court heard that Duffy was aware he would be taking part in a robbery, but denied knowing a knife would be used until it was produced by his co-accused.
A scuffle ensued as the pair left the shop with money and stolen goods, and two security guards were assaulted.
As the pair tried to flee the chopping complex, staff closed the outer security gates.
Devlin drove the bike onto a footpath, where he did a wheelie - which caused both him and Duffy to fall off the vehicle.
Police arrived at the scene and the pair were arrested. It emerged that Devlin was a banned driver, and whilst in custody he failed a breath test, and also "lunged" at Tramadol tablets which were seized from him during the arrest, and which he tried to swallow.
A Crown prosecutor said Devlin appeared before the court with 77 previous convictions, while Duffy has amassed 79.
The prosecutor also said both men were under the influence of drink and/or drugs, the offences were "unsophisticated but still required a degree of planning", and that it "descended into a chaotic scene" in the car park as the pair tried to escape.
It was added by the Crown that the use of a knife would have caused fear, and "members of the public were clearly impacted by this".
Joe Brolly, the barrister representing Duffy, said CCTV footage of the event showed his client played a "lesser role".
John O'Connor, representing Devlin, said that despite having "little recollection due to intoxication", his client "recognised the fear he engendered and is ashamed of his actions".